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 don’t 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
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
Spring workshop: Sciomyzids
I am working on an updated key and species accounts for the spring workshop at Preston Montford on 18/19 Feb. This document includes distribution maps and phenology plots. If you have any records in computerised format, I would appreciate a copy to include in this analysis. These maps and charts will be very much "warts and all" - i.e. they have not been checked or validated by the recording scheme! If you have data in MapMate or Recorder then a transfer file would be good (zipped mdb file from Recorder, .sqz file from MapMate). Otherwise, a spreadsheet is ideal with one record per row and columns such as species name, location name, grid ref, vice-county number, date and comment (and recorder and determiner's name if they are not all your own!). Please email such files to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forthcoming events calendar 2017 for all interested in flies
Here is a list of all the good events you might enjoy to further your fly interest this year. I am so impressed by the number of courses dedicated members of the Forum are running to enable people to learn how to identify flies. We are lucky to have these folk as skilled teachers to pass on their love of flies. Do sign yourself up to a course or two - they will all be good! At the bottom of the list you will see two local fly groups you could join. Judy
11-12 February 2017, 10:00-18:00 both days. Introduction to Fly families course. Tutors: John and Barbara Ismay, BENHS, Dinton Pastures Country Park in the Pelham-Clinton Building, Hurst, Reading.
25 February, Devon Fly Group winter workshop, 10.30am onwards. A chance to show photos, give short talk on something related to flies, show exhibits, etc. There will be a short session on identifying dixids and thaumaleids. Venue: Devon Wildlife Trust's reserve base at Woodah Farm near Doddiscombleigh in the Teign valley (SX847867, EX6 7PR). Contact Martin Drake (01460 2206650, email: email@example.com).
17-19 February 2017, DF Advanced Identification Workshop. Families Sciomyzidae and Drosophilidae, tutored by Stuart Ball and Peter Chandler. Preston Montford Field Studies Centre, Shrewsbury. Details will be on FSC website: http://www.field-studies-council.org/prestonmontford
25 March 2017 BENHS Annual General Meeting and Presidential Address. Oxford University Museum of Natural History. See http://www.benhs.org.uk
20 May 2017 Identifying hoverflies, Bishops Wood FSC (Worcs), Tutor: Nigel Jones - http://www.field-studies-council.org/in … 66278.aspx
25-28 May 2017 DF Spring Field meeting based around sites in Northampton. Anyone will be able to attend on any or all of those dates, and those wishing to come should book their own accommodation. Further details from Membs. Sec. John Showers.
26-28 May 2017 Developing your skills in entomology, Juniper Hall FSC (Surrey), Tutor: Martin Harvey (introduction to entomology in general, will include some Diptera) - http://www.field-studies-council.org/in … s/2017/jh-(1)/developing-your-skills-in-entomology-66461.aspx
10 - 16 June 2017, DF Summer Field meeting. Snowdonia National Park. Venue: the National Park Studies Centre - Plas Tan y Bwlch http://www.eryri-npa.gov.uk/study-centre . Book now to secure a place. Further details in separate website post and in the Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017 DF Bulletins.
24 June 2017 Bees, hoverflies and flowers: pollinators and pollination. Epping Forest FSC (north London). Tutor: Martin Harvey - http://www.field-studies-council.org/in … 66519.aspx
3 July 2017 Introduction to hoverflies, Flatford Mill FSC (Suffolk). Tutor: John Biglin - http://www.field-studies-council.org/in … s/2017/fm-(1)/introduction-to-hoverflies-66382.aspx
8 July 2017 Introducing hoverflies, Epping Forest FSC (north London).Tutor: Roger Payne, http://www.field-studies-council.org/in … 66551.aspx
October 2016. AES Annual Exhibition and Trade Fair, Kempton Park, London Sunbury-on-Thames, TW16 5AQ, UK. DF will have a publicity stand and publications for sale. See www.amentsoc.org
October 2016, DF Autumn Field Meeting. Contact Roger Morris: firstname.lastname@example.org
4 November 2017, BENHS Annual Exhibition and Dinner, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL. See http://www.benhs.org.uk . Bring your best fly exhibits for the Diptera table.
25-26 November 2017, DF AGM, Dipterists Day and Indoor Meeting. Liverpool Museum. Check DF Bulletin for details.
2 December 2017, Discovering Diptera: flies under the microscope, Epping Forest FSC (north London) Tutor: Martin Harvey - http://www.field-studies-council.org/in … 66530.aspx
20–25 November 2018. 9th International Congress of Dipterology is scheduled to take place in Windhoek, Namibia, from 25–30 November 2018. The link is: http://icd9.co.za/ .
Throughout the Year:
BENHS Dinton Pastures Open Days in the Pelham-Clinton Building, Hurst, Reading. Open 10:30-16:00 on second and fourth Sunday in each month except April to September when only on the second Sunday of each month (except for August when there are no Open Days). We encourage you to bring along your pinned flies and use the Diptera Collections and library for identification. Other Dipterists are usually present meaning good chat and assistance with identifications may be possible. The grid reference for Dinton Pastures is SU 784718, turn left off the B3030 driving North from Winnersh. The site is about 15 minutes walk from Winnersh station, which has trains running on a half-hourly service from Reading and Waterloo. See: www.benhs.org.uk
The Northants and Peterborough Diptera Group hold meetings every weekend from end of April until sometime in September/October. See: northantsdiptera.blogspot.co.uk or contact John Showers on email: email@example.com
The Devon Fly Group will be holding regular field meetings throughout the year. Contact Martin Drake (01460 2206650, email: firstname.lastname@example.org).