International Year of the Fly

Erica McAlister introduces Year of the Fly, outlining how Dipterists Forum intends to celebrate, and what you can do to help.

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Welcome to 2019, and more importantly welcome to International Year of the Fly! Yes, it is a thing and yes, the Dipterists Forum and many more organisations from Natural History Museums, Natural History Societies, entomological supply companies etc. across the UK are getting together to create a series of inspiring events up and down the country.

Year of the Fly was originally the brainchild of Ashley Kirk-Sprigs, a brilliant Dipterist from South Africa, who is coordinating the publication (and editing) of the Afrotropical Manual of Diptera, and recently organised the International Congress of Dipterology in Namibia. Fed up, and rightly so, with the dominance of vertebrates and the lack of understanding of these much maligned beasts he decreed that 2019 gives itself to Diptera.

There are more flies in the UK than there are mammals across the globe. And some of these are incredibly rare – Fonseca’s seed fly as championed by Buglife is one of our rarest endemic invertebrates in the UK, and is just limited to a short stretch of coastline in northern Scotland. This species needs protection as much as any of its much larger cousins.

Dipterists Forum seeks to increase the knowledge of all UK species by running courses, talks and promoting the recording schemes to help us monitor populations. In today’s climate, where land use and climate change threaten our biodiversity, it is critical that we understand our biota. And the flies make up such an important part of that, getting their tarsi stuck into all sorts of ecological pies from pollination, decomposition, predation, vectors to feeding us and our livestock. No other group of animals are so ecologically diverse. And look so gorgeous whilst doing so.

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Large Bear-hoverfly (Criorhina ranunculi) by Steven Falk

We are asking for your help in making this year a success. Over the next 12 months there will be Natural History Museum collection visits and talks, walks and lectures with different natural history societies up and down the country, and visits to schools and universities, and we hope to involve loads of different members of Dipterists Forum.

Can you help in organising local events or talks, or asking for another member to come and give talks, run workshops etc.? Don’t be afraid to ask for us to come to you – the Dipterists Forum has members all over the place, most of who are not known for being shy and retiring! Contact Erica McAlister for more information about this.

The timetable of events will be regularly updated on our Events page as well as on the Dipterists Forum Facebook page and on our twitter feed @DipteristsForum (see Tweets using #YearOfTheFly) – be sure to check those out to see what is happening in your local area.

Each month there will be a fly of the month. We start with the winter gnats, with a blog about the UK species, focusing each time on a seasonally interesting species, and throughout the year you will be able to learn more about the bee-flies (there is always interesting stuff about the bee-flies), the St Marks Fly, and Large Bear-hoverfly Criorhina ranunculi – a magnificent bumblebee mimic as Steven Falks puts it. Why not write something yourself? We are always keen to hear about new observations, see wonderful photographs and learn new facts about our flies.

And what more to get you excited than a discount on a beginners fly field kit, generously offered by Anglian Lepidopterists Supplies.

So get out there and spread the word and please get involved. Here is to a fantastic year ahead!

 

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Chloe Wrench befriends a bee-fly (photo by Dan Wrench)