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
NBN Atlas update April 2017
The Atlas replaced the Gateway at the beginning of this month. The NBN team are doing a terrific job trying to get it all running smoothly and many users are testing out the various systems and trying to fix issues.
If you are using the Atlas to search for Diptera records and perhaps not finding what you expected then the NBN's update at https://nbn.org.uk/news/nbn-atlas-updat … pril-2017/ gives the best clue as to what might be going on. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, please be patient, everyone is working hard.
Do test out the Atlas via our own Dipterists Forum page at https://registry.nbnatlas.org/public/show/dp172 where you can view or download records from a number of our Field Weeks. There are two Recording Schemes listed on that page and you will find others at https://registry.nbnatlas.org/public/show/dp37 (Soldierflies' iRecords) and https://registry.nbnatlas.org/public/show/dp127 (Tachinids).
Set them up as links in your browser so that you can watch the usage statistics soar - which they will if you download records yourself.
Many Diptera datasets are also listed on the BRC pages at https://registry.nbnatlas.org/public/show/dp77
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