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I've just ordered Biology of Snail-Killing Sciomyzidae Flies
Lloyd Vernon Knutson; Jean-Claude Vala for £10.99 including postage from Postscript books. They appear to still have copies available:
http://www.psbooks.co.uk/products/scien … idae-flies
Should be useful for the upcoming workshop.
Last edited by conopid (2017-02-01 19:22:38)
Just ordered a copy. Not sure if this book concentrates on UK species or refers to the family worldwide. Either way, this is a group which I often encounter but my identification attempts often come to an uncertain end.
The keys are OK as far as they go but I frequently find them rather ambiguous when my examples fail to easily fall into the required firm yes or no categories and I can't find any clear photographs to confirm the alternatives.
The book you are talking about is a very fine work, but contains keys (worldwide) only to genus level. There are no keys to species. The best keys to British species that I have come across are in "The Sciomyzidae of Fennoscandia and Denmark" - volume 14 of the Fauna Entomologica Scandinavica series.
Stuart Ball has produced excellent UK keys for the forthcoming workshop.
My earlier attempt was "adequate" I thought, certainly should have resolved some of the uncertainty. I won't give you the link as Stuart's is so much better.
Photographs may be obtained on Diptera.info but photographic guides are an issue which remains to be resolved, identification from photographs is tricky (though Paul Beuk manages it mostly). This is an area where a DF gallery might be helpful.
I should have clarified that the book would be useful for helping to understand life histories of these interesting flies, rather than for identification. At £11 It's a terrific bargain.
Looking forward to seeing the new improved UK key. I thought Darwyn's was pretty good, so if Stuart's is better still we are in for a treat.
I'm using Darwyn's 2007 keys. Most keys make more sense the more you use them, providing you get a successful result each time.
My problems occur when I'm uncertain about the end result which is where a real photo proves so useful. If my final 'identification' looks totally different from a real life colour image I know I have gone wrong somewhere!
Some of the more recent publications like Britain's Hoverflies for example are so useful in this respect. I find the Mike Hackson keys so user friendly. He has revised some older keys and added decent colour images at many of the dividing points; although a lot of his revisions cover other insect families like beetles etc, more than flies.
So often, I get to a division which turns on something like 'frons shining'. Well the frons on my example isn't exactly shining; but I wouldn't call it matt either! Which, I know, comes with experience; but it can be tough when first encountering a new species where my experience is zero.