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Microdon mutabilis.jpg
Microdon mutabilis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Syrphidae
Subfamily: Microdontinae
Genus: Microdon
Meigen, 1803
Type species
Musca mutabilis
Subgenera and species groups[1]
Microdon eggeri, larva, third instar

Hover flies (family Syrphidae) of the genus Microdon are unusual among the Diptera. Like other members of the subfamily, they are myrmecophiles, meaning they inhabit the nests of ants.

There are 249 species known worldwide, with the greatest diversity being from the tropics; 30 species are known from North America, though it is expected that many of these species will be placed in other genera in time, as Microdon has been used as a catch-all for various unrelated species not placed in other genera.[2][3][needs update]


Microdon adults look more or less like typical flies. Like some other hoverflies, they are generally robust and very hairy, often closely resembling bees. They are between 8 and 15 mm long. The antennae are rather long, with the last (third) segment nearly as long as, or sometimes significantly longer than, the first segment; the antennae are nearly as long as the fly's face. These flies are covered in black or pale (white or golden) hairs, and are themselves either black or metallic green or blue. The scutellum is with apical calcars and wing vein R4+5 with an appendix. They have simple legs and abdomens.[2]

The real oddity of the genus Microdon is in its larvae and pupae. These are dome-shaped and look like stout little slugs. Their appearance originally led scientists to describe them as mollusks and scale insects.[4] They are slow-moving. Most have the spiracles on a peg-like protuberance extending from the end of their abdomens.


Adult Microdon flies do not behave like other syrphid flies; they do not hover around flowers, but instead remain very near the ant colonies which serve as larval hosts.

Larvae may be found very deep in ant colonies. Some species actively feed on ant larvae in the colony,[4] others are speculated to be scavengers[citation needed]. Microdon larvae are more or less restricted in their ant host species. Some Microdon species have only ever been found in the colonies of a single ant species, while others are restricted to related ant species or genera. Because these flies have such cryptic life cycles, biological information on most species is limited.


Microdon is divided into six subgenera (including Microdon s.s.), plus five species groups and some unplaced species in "Microdon s.l.".[1]

Subgenus Chymophila

Subgenus Dimeraspis

Subgenus Megodon

Subgenus Microdon s.s.


= Microdon cockerelli Jones, 1922
= Microdon coloradensis Cockerell & Andrews, 1916
= Microdon modestus Knab, 1917
= Microdon senilis Knab, 1917
= Microdon similis Jones, 1917
= Microdon bombiformis Townsend, 1895
= Microdon basicornis Curran, 1925
= Microdon champlaini Curran, 1925
= Microdon robusta Telford, 1939


= Aphritis angustus Macquart, 1848 (nec Macquart, 1846)
= Microdon angustatus Fluke, 1957 (misspelling)



= Scutelligera? ammerlandia Spix, 1824
= Microdon brevicornis Egger, 1862 (nec Loew, 1857)
= Microdon eggeri Mik, 1897
= Microdon fuscitarsis Schummel, 1842
= Microdon latifrons Loew, 1856
= Buchanania? reticulata Torrez Minguez, 1924
= Microdon anthinus Meigen, 1822
= Stratiomys conica Panzer, 1793
= Microdon micans Wiedemann in Meigen, 1822
= Microdon picticornis Mik, 1897
= Stratiomys pigra Schrank, 1803
= Musca viridescens Villers, 1789
= Microdon jezoensis Matsumura, 1916
= Mulio apiarius Fabricius, 1805
= Musca apiformis De Geer, 1776
= Aphritis auropubescens Latreille, 1805
= Parmula? cocciformis von Heyden, 1825
= Microdon rhenanus Andries, 1912
= Microdon scutellatus Schummel, 1842

Subgenus Myiacerapis

Subgenus Syrphipogon

Microdon s.l. species groups





= Microdon erytherus Bezzi, 1921 (misspelling)



= Microdon arcuata Curran, 1941



= Microdon bequaerti Curran, 1929

Unplaced species


Australian / Oceanian:

= Microdon pictulipennis Hull, 1944



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Reemer, Menno; Ståhls, Gunilla (2013). "Generic revision and species classification of the Microdontinae (Diptera, Syrphidae)". ZooKeys (288): 1–213. doi:10.3897/zookeys.288.4095. PMC 3690914. PMID 23798897.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cheng, Xin-Yue; Thompson, F. Christian (2008). "A generic conspectus of the Microdontinae (Diptera: Syrphidae) with the description of two new genera from Africa and China" (PDF). Zootaxa. New Zealand: Magnolia Press. 1879: 21–48. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.1879.1.3. ISSN 1175-5334. Retrieved 2009-09-11.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Thompson, F.C (1981). "Revisionary notes on Nearctic Microdon flies (Diptera: Syrphidae)". Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. Washington D.C.: Allen Press. 83: 725–758. ISSN 0013-8797.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Duffield, R.M (1981). "Biology of Microdon fuscipennis (Diptera: Syrphidae) with interpretation of reproductive strategies of Microdon species found north of Mexico". Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. Washington D.C.: Allen Press. 83: 716–724. ISSN 0013-8797.
  5. Reemer, Menno (2014). "A review of Microdontinae (Diptera: Syrphidae) of Surinam, with a key to the Neotropical genera". Tijdschrift voor Entomologie. 157 (1): 27–57. doi:10.1163/22119434-00002035.
  6. Tian, Jing; Huo, Ke-Ke; Zhang, Chun-Tian; Ren, Bing-Zhong (2019). "Microdon dentigiganteum sp. nov. and other Microdontinae species (Diptera: Syrphidae) from Northeast China". Zootaxa. 4712 (1): 65–76. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4712.1.4. PMID 32230696.

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