Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Guide to New Zealand's freshwater invertebrates

Horse flies ( Tabanidae : Tabanidae )

Diagnostic features

The Tabanidae is another one of the less common families of true flies in our fresh waters. Their larvae resemble those of craneflies, but the tabanids have distinctive rings of psuedopods (fleshy bumps) along the body. Like the tipulids the head is retractile and there are no prolegs, but unlike the tipulids there is no spiracular disc (breathing structure) at the end of the abdomen.

Typical habitats

Most of our records of tabanid larvae are from hard bottom, bush covered streams.


It is assumed that like overseas, New Zealand tabanid larvae are predators, preying on other stream invertebrates.

Indicator value

Due to their infrequent occurrence, we don’t know much about the water quality requirements (and therefore indicator value) of tabanids. They have tolerance values of 3 (hard bottom sites) and 6.8 (soft bottom sites).