Picture-wing flies (advanced) and Hoverflies (beginners)
Preston Montford Field Centre, near Shrewsbury
Friday 14th – Sunday 16th February 2020
Tutored by David Clements and John Showers (picture-wings) and Stuart Ball (hoverflies)
Details on Field Studies Council website: http://www.field-studies-council.org/prestonmontford from mid October (search in Courses, then Individuals & Families, then Natural History)
The master class is on picture-wing acalyptrate flies, and includes several families. The largest is Tephritidae with 77 species, and smaller closely related families included in the course are the Pallopteridae (13 species), Platystomatidae (2) and Uliidae (20); rather more distantly related is the Opomyzidae (16). All but the last family fall into two recording schemes so, apart from being attractive flies to study, any records will find a good home. They are relatively straight-forward to identify, helped by their conspicuous wing patterns, but inevitably a few genera need closer attention. Most have herbivorous larvae although they show a wide range of ecologies within this apparently mundane life-style. A few are saprovores under decaying bark or in leaf sheathes, and even predators. But it is the adults’ courtship behaviour that brings many of these flies to our attention as they use wing-waving and phermones to signal their intentions. The tutors are David Clements, whose long-running recording scheme includes several of the families, and John Showers who has many years of experience as county recorder for Northamptonshire.
This year we welcome back the beginners’ hoverfly course, which is probably the earliest Dipterists Forum course held at Preston Montford. As the title implies, this is for those wishing to become familiar with hoverflies. Indeed this popular group is the starting point for most people who take up flies mores seriously, being attractive, large and well served with identification guides. Their ecology is better understood than that of many other fly families, as expounded in The Natural History of Hoverflies (Rotheray & Gilbert 2011). They have been long recognised as useful as aphid predators but recent research shows them to compete with bees as important pollinators. Less flashy lifestyles include feeding on decaying vegetable matter and living in rot-holes. The national recording scheme has produced a wealth of data on distributions, phenologies and statuses. Stuart Ball is a very experienced tutor and will make these flies seem so easy that you’ll be submitting records to their national recording scheme in no time.
If you would like to attend, check the FSC website or contact Preston Montford directly. Bookings usually open in October. The cost of the course will be £295 for a single room, £270 for a shared room and £215 for non-residents. Dipterists Forum members get a £95 discount on these prices (which are then respectively £200, £175 and £120). If you do not bring your own microscope, one can be provided by the field centre but do please book with Preston Montford if you need one. Arrive on Friday evening in time for dinner (usually 6pm), and leave on Sunday afternoon.