08 December 2010

Rediscovering World's Rarest Fly

News of the rediscovery by Ashley Kirk-Spriggs (National Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa) and Robert Copeland (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi, Kenya) of a fly species not seen in more than 60 years delighted dipterists all over the world. Although the fly, Mormotomyia hirsuta, or the Terrible Hairy Fly, was found in 1933 and again in 1948, no amount of digging around in bat guano in the only spot from which the species is known had turned it up again until now. Because this species is not only the sole member of its genus, but of its family, the rediscovery at a time when molecular analysis can be added to morphological assessments is exciting news to those working on understanding the relationships among the higher flies. See http://www.nasmus.co.za/museum/news/world’s-rarest-fly-rediscovered

Mormotomyia hirsuta (male)
Mormotomyia hirsuta, male; photo by Robert Copeland

28 June 2010

The Eyes have it!

Four of the six featured photos in Wired's latest close-up of "crazy bug eyes" are flies!

14 May 2010

Drain flies spark a lumper/splitter debate

You've likely seen them in your bathroom or at a public toilet: drain flies in the family Psychodidae. They flit from wall to wall where they cling like flecks of dust. Their hairy wings, antennae, and bodies are cute or scruffy, depending on your point of view. Barb Sharanowski featured one species on the North Carolina Insect Museum's Insect of the Week. Her post brought comments by taxonomists talking about which taxonomic concept should be accepted for this fly: Telmatoscopus albipunctata Williston, 1983 or Clogmia albipunctata (Williston, 1983). This species was sequenced for the FLYTREE project.

10 April 2010

Dr. Art Borkent, biting midge expert, featured

Known as the world expert on the systematics of families of midges (small, often annoying flies that may bite), Art Borkent was featured in Spotlight our Taxonomist in the journal Zootaxa. He was awarded the prestigious J.O. Westwood Medal for Excellence in Insect Taxonomy by the Royal Entomological Society, in partnership with the Natural History Museum in London, for his monograph on The Frog-Biting Midges of the World (Corethrellidae: Diptera), which was published in Zootaxa.