Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory




Regional Maps

Family SCIARIDAE Billberg, 1820

Compiler and date details

2017- October - ABRS

2011 - Updated by Judy King and Christine Lambkin, Queensland Museum

1999 - E.-M.E. Bugledich, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


The Sciaridae are cosmopolitan fungus gnats belonging to the Mycetophiloidea, which are distinguished from other included families by the usual dorsal extension of the eye which meet medially forming an 'eye bridge'. The presence of spurs on the tibia will allow differentiation from lestremiine cecidomyiids. Exceptions to the possession of an eye bridge are found amongst certain soil-dwelling sciarids.

The Sciaridae are cosmopolitan, and are quite speciose although their study is in its infancy in most parts of the world. The Australian fauna is amongst those that are inadequately studied, with only the mushroom pests being at all well-known. In the first of a series of proposed revisions, Mohrig and Krauschke in Mohrig et al. (2017) describe 12 new species from Queensland.

The immature stages of Sciaridae are predominantly found in soil, where the larvae of some species form large aggregations. Larvae feed on fungal hyphae, rotting materials including wood, faeces, bird and mammal nests. One species thrives as an inquiline in termite nests (Austrosciara termitophila). Certain species breed in the medium of potted indoor plants where little harm is caused, except the irritation of having small flies swarming in 'sealed' air conditioned buildings. However certain species of sciarids do cause damage in commercial mushroom cultures, whilst others include pests of greenhouse crops.


General References

Binns, E.S. 1980. Field and laboratory observations on the substrates of the mushroom fungus gnat Lycoriella auripila (Diptera: Sciaridae). Annals of Applied Biology 96: 143-152

Clift, A.D. & Larsson, S.F. 1984. The incidence and ecology of Lycoriella mali (Fitch) (Diptera: Sciaridae) in the commercial culture of two species of mushroom in N.S.W. General and Applied Entomology 16: 49-56

Clift, A.D. & Toffolon, R.B. 1981. Distribution of larvae of Lycoriella agarici Loudon (Diptera: Sciaridae) within mushroom beds in commercial culture of Agaricus bisporus and Agaricus bitorquis in NSW. Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 20: 229-234

Hussy, N.W. & Gurney, B. 1968. Biology and control of the sciarid Lycoriella auripila Winn. (Diptera: Lycoriidae) in mushroom culture. Annals of Applied Biology 62: 395-403

Kielbasa, R. & Snetsinger, R. 1980. Life history of a sciarid fly, Lycoriella mali, and its injury threshold on the commercial mushroom. Bulletin of the Pennsylvania State University, Agricultural Experimental Station 833: 1-14

MacCarthy, M.D. 1945. Chromosome studies on eight species of Sciara (Diptera) with special reference to chromosome changes of evolutionary significance. American Naturalist 79: 104-121, 228-245

Mohrig, W., Kauschke, E. & Broadley, A. 2017. Black fungus gnats (Diptera: Sciaridae) of Queensland, Australia. Part I. Genera Chaetosciara Frey, Corynoptera Winnertz, Cratyna Winnertz, Epidapus Haliday, Keilbachia Mohrig, Lobosciara Steffan, Phytosciara Frey and Scatopsciara Edwards. Zootaxa 4303(4): 451–481

Steffan, W.A. 1974. Laboratory studies and ecological notes on Hawaiian Sciaridae (Diptera). Pacific Insects 16: 41-50

Wicklow, D. T. & Yocom, D.H. 1982. Effect of larval grazing by Lycoriella mali (Diptera: Sciaridae) on species abundance of coprophilous fungi. Transactions of the British Mycological Society 78: 29-32


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
02-Nov-2017 SCIARIDAE 03-Oct-2017 MODIFIED
16-Nov-2011 16-Nov-2011 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)