The Society for the study of flies (Diptera)

Affiliated to the British Entomological and Natural History Society (BENHS)

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#1 2009-03-14 15:04:44

Judy Webb
Name: Judith Webb
Registered: 2008-02-21
Posts: 422

Hoverflies and Picture Wing Flies Workshops, 6-8 Mar 2009

These two excellent identification workshops were held by the Dipterists Forum at Preston Montford Field Study Centre last weekend.  The centre is in an attractive Queen Anne house, a short distance from the River Severn near Shrewsbury.  It has modern, well equipped laboratories and comfortable accommodation.  Both courses were fully booked and 40 odd persons were fully occupied studying Diptera for 2 days.  A few photographs of the courses are posted here, but there are more in the gallery section of this website.  The beginner's course was taught by Stuart Ball and Roger Morris, who run the Hoverfly Recording Scheme..
Rob Wolton, who attended this course says:

'All ten of us who attended this course must surely have come away enthused about hoverflies and eager to get recording.  I know I have Ė I feel I now have the confidence to venture boldly into the mysteries of the Diperistís world.  Under Roger and Stuartís expert and patient tuition we learnt how to identify hovers, so that even complete beginners like me felt we could have a good crack at the majority of species.  The identical boxes of Syrphidae, each with 25 different specimens, that Roger prepared for us, were a tremendous learning aid.  As well as finding out how to use the keys and tell our humeri from our squamae, Roger and Stuart told us about the life cycles and larval feeding habits of different groups of hovers, gave us a slide show about what to look out for in the spring, and demonstrated how best to catch the insects.  Just before we left, John and Barbara Ismay gave us a most useful session on good labelling and storage techniques, so altogether we had a rounded introduction to fly entomology.  My thanks to Stuart and Roger for sharing their expertise and passion for flies with us, and to all members of the Dipterist Forum involved in arranging the course.  It really was most enjoyable.  As I write, I can hardly wait for the winter cold to go so that I can get out there, find some hovers and put my new found skills to use.'

The Picture Wing Flies course was taught by Alan Stubbs and Martyn Drake.  It covered the flies with attractively patterened wings in the Tephritidae, Pallopteridae, Ulidiidae, Opomyzidae and Geomyzidae.  We all had some specimens of our own, but more were provided from the entomology collections of Liverpool Museum.  New keys were trialled and modifications or improvements suggested.  I gained confidence in these fly families and achieved lots of useful identifications of my specimens. I  value the new keys from this course very highly (the final corrected versions are available to attendees and might even be on this website some time in the future).  I also much enjoyed the social time where a lot of networking always goes on!

Who can work out which attractive Tephritid fly is featured in the picture attached to this post?

I really recommend these workshops to anyone wanting to progress in Diptera identification.  Watch out for details of next year's workshops and make room in your diary for the weekend around the same dates in March 2010.


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