The Diptera ("di-ptera" = two-winged) or "true flies" is the largest order of animals in the UK with around 7,000 known species and new ones being discovered every year. They are found in all habitats from the sea shore to mountain tops. Whilst some are agricultural pests or vectors of disease, the great majority are beneficial. They are extremely important as predators on other pests and diseases, as pollinators, as food for other animals and the immature stages of the bulk of the species are involved in the decay of organic matter and the recycling of material back into the soil.
Entomologists who specialise in these insects are "dipterists". In 1993, a group of people who wanted to find out more about every aspect of their lives, including the habitats they require, set up the Dipterists Forum. There is a great deal still to learn about flies. Mapping the distribution of some groups is a major achievement of the Dipterists Forum to date, but the immature stages of the majority of species are still unknown. Many species are becoming increasingly rare as a result of habitat loss and climate change.
Why not join the Dipterists Forum and help us find out more about flies? There is so much still to learn; we welcome beginners and there are always people who can help you out in the early stages. You donít need to be an expert, or even to leave your own garden, to contribute to our knowledge of these fascinating insects. Flies need your help! Read more ...
Watch our new video for more about the Dipterist's Forum
The Secret Life of Flies
I have just published a light-hearted romp through the Diptera world called 'The Secret Life of Flies' (NHM publishing)
It is meant for a popular science audience - and ideally for all the non believers out there.
There are some errors -i keep finding them - but hopefully it is enjoyable and does have some pretty pictures!
And its cheap
NBN Atlas available for testing
I volunteered to help test the NBN Atlas and got the link today. It looks like a live link rather than a test link - https://nbnatlas.org/
They want me to test it, look for problems and come back to them with constructive comments (each problem I've to respond to using a separate form).
Closing date for comments is 15th March.
Have a go and let me know - email might be best
Keys and presentations from the Feb 2017 workshop now available
The Key to British Drosophilidae by Peter Chandler and to British Sciomyzidae by myself are now available to download, as are the presentations we gave at the workshop in Preston Montford in February. The keys are in PDF format and the presentations are PowerPoint (.pptx) files, but I have zipped Peter's two presentations and also my two, and it is these zip files that you can download (because directly downloading the original .pptx files seems to lead to corruption and they will not then open correctly!). In both cases, the keys have been updated to address the issues found during the workshop and Peter has incorporated the material he gave out as separate sheets.
Daniel Whitmore has also made his key to British Sarcophagidae from the Feb 2016 workshop available. This is in the form of two PDF files, one for the text and the other for the figures. Similarly, these have been updated to fix errors and address comments that were made during the workshop.
To access this material you need to be logged on as a member of Dipterists Forum and go to the Forum entitled "Test keys and other unpublished material" (which is only visible once you are logged in). You will then see items for Sarcophagidae, Sciomyzidae and Drosophilidae which contain the download links.
Verrall Super and collections
On the 1st of March is the Annual Verrall Lecture and Super for the hoards of Entomologists.
Once again the Diptera Section at the Natural History Museum London are opening up the collections. If you would like to visit that day and use the collections please could you either email me firstname.lastname@example.org or any of your usual contacts about access so we can coordinate.
Cheers and Hopefully see some of you then
Spring 2017 field meeting
We are planning our Spring 2017 field meeting for Thursday 25th May to Sunday 28th May inclusive in South Northamptonshire.
The primary site will be the Yardley Chase MoD area which is still used by the military and police for training purposes so access is tightly controlled. ANYONE WISHING TO JOIN US MUST CONTACT ME AT LEAST A WEEK IN ADVANCE so I can send you details of access, meeting points etc. It is not possible to get onto the site individually and everybody will have to sign in, have a safety briefing and sign out. There are no live munitions on the site but there are a number of hazards to be made aware of. It is hoped that the visit will provide an update to the species status on the site and recommendations for future management.
We also hope that access to the private woodlands on Yardley Chase (e.g. Sane Copse, ) will be possible, but are awaiting confirmation from private landowners. In addition, we will have the opportunity to visit some of the nature reserves in the Nene Valley Special Area of Conservation, which contains a mixture of flood meadows and wet woodland. Our visit to some of these sites during the Autumn field meeting in 2016 indicated that these sites should be very productive for Diptera.
Please note that dogs are not permitted in Yardley Chase and only permitted on the Nene Valley Nature Reserve on leads on the footpaths.
Yardley Chase is a large area of ancient woodland, parkland and meadows that was formerly part of the deer park and forests of the Compton Estate prior to being requisitioned during the WW2. It contains the oldest trees in Northamptonshire, many of which are in advanced stages of decay. Much of the woodland was coppiced during the war, and although some parts are still actively managed, much of the site has not been re-coppiced. The majority of the woodland is oak/ash/field maple but there are wetter areas with extensive birch. The meadows are grazed by cattle throughout the year. In addition, there are many quality ponds, dug during WW2 to provide blast banks around munitions stores. These ponds are of high quality and offer great potential for interesting Diptera.
The Yardley Chase sites are located around the village of Yardley Hastings on the A428 Northampton to Bedford road. The Nene Valley sites run from Northampton to Rushden and beyond. Accommodation can be found reasonably close-by in the following places: South Northampton, Wellingborough, North Bedford, Sharnbrook, Olney, Newport Pagnell, North Milton Keynes. There are four TravelLodges around Northampton, the one at Round Spinney is the most convenient for reaching the sites, despite it being on the North side of the town.
Further details will be added to the DF website closer to the event. If you wish to join us or have any queries regarding the visit please contact me at email@example.com