Bladder flies

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Bladder flies
Four-lipped thick-headed fly (Conops quadrifasciatus)

Four-lipped thick-headed fly ( Conops quadrifasciatus )

Class : Insects (Insecta)
Order : Fly (Diptera)
Subordination : Flies (Brachycera)
Partial order : Muscomorpha
Superfamily : Conopoidea
Family : Bladder flies
Scientific name
Latreille , 1802

Bladder-head flies (Conopidae), also called thick-headed flies , are a family of two-winged flies ( Diptera). Within these, they are assigned to the flies (Brachycera). These are small to medium-sized flies that are characterized by an inflated head.

Features of the bladder fly

The bladder flies reach a body length of three to 18 millimeters and can have a very different shape. What they all have in common is the large, puffed-up head, which often has a translucent forehead bladder. The trunk is short and thick or drawn out characteristically long. Some species have "whiskers". The wings are long and narrow and transparent, but sometimes also purple or brownish in color. The chest area is sometimes equipped with dark spots and a characteristic silver markings.

The abdomen of the animals is variable. This can be short and thick as well as elongated, thin or even stalked like a wasp . Many species are strikingly colored, often like the hover flies (Syrphidae) in shades of yellow and brown. A noticeable feature of the Dallmannia species is a long laying tube hammered into the stomach.

Lifestyle of the bladder flies

The bladder-head flies are flower visitors and feed on nectar . Some species can be found very early in the year in early bloomers such as willows , blackthorns and thistles . Later species usually fly on daisy family and Carrot . The animals often sit on sunlit leaves, especially in the morning.

Bladder-head flies can be observed particularly frequently in dry and semi- arid grasslands , where they also find the hosts for their offspring: ( bumblebees and wasps ).

Reproduction and development

The bladder flies are parasitoids , they develop in various other insects. Their main hosts are bumblebees and wasps, and more rarely grasshoppers . Many species are relatively unspecific in the choice of their hosts, and the size of the animals of the same species varies accordingly. The eggs are laid in flight on sedentary or slow-flying host animals. The larvae hatch and invade the abdomen of the hosts who eat them up. The wintering takes place in the dead host.


The Conopidae family consists of 830 species in 52 genera. The bladder-head fly family is represented in Europe with around 14 genera and over 80 species.

Genera in Europe

Genera in Europe and assignment to the higher taxa:

Species in Europe

Below is a list of the species in Europe:


Here are some representatives of the genres present in Europe:


Individual evidence

  1. P. Schmid-Hempel, C. Müller, R. Schmid-Hempel, JA Shykoff: Frequency and ecological correlates of parasitism by conopid flies (Conopidae, Diptera) in populations of bumblebees. [Frequency and ecological correlates of parasitization by thick-headed flies (Conopidae, Diptera) in bumblebee populations] In: Insectes Sociaux , Volume 37, No. 1, March 1990, pp. 14-30.
  2. Conopidae . Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  3. Conopidae. In: Fauna Europaea, Version 1.3. August 16, 2020, accessed June 2, 2008 .


  • Kurt Kormann: Hover flies and bubble-head flies of Central Europe. Fauna, Nottuln 2002, ISBN 3-935980-29-9 .

Web links

Commons : Bladder Flies  - Collection of images, videos and audio files