Also known as spear-winged flies. Adults are small (2-5 mm) and have diagnostically significant setae on the legs and are distinct in having lanceolate (pointed) wings and globose basal antennal segments. The larvae and pupae are semi-aquatic and adults are often encountered lurking around potential breeding sites in damp places.
Although of little economic or agricultural significance, they can be found in large numbers in damp meadows. Populations are frequently dominated by females with males in significantly low abundance, suggesting that Lochopteridae may be parthenogenetic.
There is a single genus globally, Lonchoptera Meigen, 1803, with approximately 70 species - many of which are known from a single location and few specimens. The apparent rarity in collections can be put down to collecting technique and behavioural aspects of both the collected and the collector. Lonchoptera are sometimes not swept up in general sweep-netting, because of their habit to creep low within the sward of grasses and other vegetation. D-Vac sampling draws them out and collecting focussed specifically on finding them usually yields rewards (pers. obs.).
Whittington, A.E. 1991. Two new Afrotropical species of Lonchoptera Meigen (Diptera: Lonchopteridae). Annals of the Natal Museum 32: 205-214.
Whittington, A.E. & Kirk-Spriggs, A.H. 2021. Chapter 58. Lonchopteridae (Spear-winged flies, Pointed-winged flies). pp.1375–1381. In: Kirk-Spriggs, A. and Sinclair, B.J. (eds). Manual of Afrotropical Diptera. Volume 3. Brachycera: Cyclorrhapha, excluding Calyptratae. Suricata 8. South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), Pretoria.
A pivotal paper in Lonchoptera research was publishes in 1906 by Johannes Cornelis Hendrik de Meijere (1866 – 1947). It addressed much of the confusion regarding identification of species, obfuscated by variety in colour within and between species and established that position and number of setae of the legs (so called chaetotaxy) was important for species diagnosis. Accordingly, he also corrected may misidentifications.