In this family more than 1,502 species were known as of 2000. They are distributed mainly in temperate and tropical zones. Diagnostic characters include variously shaped antennae, usually with contiguous basal segments and a divergent flagella, the club often with aristate tip; wings with discal cell (1st M-2) small; branches of M more slender than those of R; the vein R branches are rather crowded toward costal margin. The body is small, while the abdomen is usually as wide as the thorax, and frequently flattened.
Immature stages of Stratiomyiidae are found in many and diverse habitats. Some species are aquatic, feeding on algae, small Crustacea, etc. Others live in decaying plant material. A number of species are scavengers in the nests of insects, and a few are found beneath the bark of trees, where they feed, at least to some extent, on insect larvae. Adult stratiomyiids usually are found on flowers. The family is not of much importance in biological control (Clausen 1940/62).
Clausen, C. P. 1940. Entomophagous Insects. McGraw-Hill Book Co., NY. & London. 688 p.
Cole, F. R. 1969. The Flies of Western North America. Univ. Calif. Press, Berkeley & Los Angeles. 693 p.
James, M. T. 1939. Ann. Ent. Soc. Amer. 32: 543-8.
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Kuster, K. C. 1934. Michigan Acad. Sci., Arts, Letters, Papers 19: 605-58.