What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Rather small flies, with large, rounded compound eyes making up much of the head, hence their common name 'bigheaded flies'. Approximately 600 species have been described worldwide, and almost 100 have been described from Australia. The world fauna probably comprises 1,500 species. Synonym: Dorilaidae.

The adults have remarkable powers of hovering in confined spaces. The larvae are endoparasites of auchenorrhychus Hemiptera, especially Cicadellidae, Delphacidae and Cercopidae.


The commonest genus is Pipunculus (= Dorilas ), with pigmented pterostigma and venation complete except for the absence of M2. Tomosvaryella is similar, but without pterostigma, whereas Cephalops and Eurdorylas have M1+2 forked (identification of the last two genera is provisional). Beckerias with vein 1A obsolescent, and Chalarus with discal cell and M1 also incomplete, occur in eastern Australia. The Australian fauna has been the subject of recent revisions by Jeff Skevington (see reference list).


Members of the family are found all over Australia, and some species have been recorded hilltopping.

  • Pipunculidae with yellow eyes

  • Pipunculidae