OPAL funding

OPAL funding
Earlier this year The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network announced that they had made grants available to UK natural history societies and recording schemes. OPAL are a multipartner organization that aims “to create and inspire a new generation of nature-lovers by getting people to explore, study, enjoy and protect their local environment.” They are funded ...

Rhamphina pedemontana

Rhamphina pedemontana
This is one of my favourite tachinids – a species from montane habitats with a huge proboscis that it keeps hinged under the body. It was collected in the French Pyrennes on umbellifer flowers bordering an alpine meadow. Eurithia sp. were also flying at the same time and look superficially very similar.

Tachinids at the Moscow Zoological Museum

Tachinids at the Moscow Zoological Museum
I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon at the Moscow Zoological Museum during my recent holiday in Russia. I concentrated on photographing as many interesting species as I could and documenting every drawer for future reference. I am very keen to expand my knowledge of Palearctic tachinids by obtaining specimens from any collectors who ...

Sturmia bella update

Sturmia bella update
Just received an update from Dr Owen Lewis, the manager of the Sturmia bella project, a project set up to investigate the role of Sturmia bella in the decline of the Small Tortoishell (Aglais urticae) butterfly. I have attached his first-year report below (in PDF format) and it makes interesting reading. While Sturmia is undoubtably ...

Palearctic reorganization

I decided not to avoid it any more and started organizing my Palearctic collection into glass-topped drawers and unit trays. This means bringing together my British material (3 store-boxes); my Russian specimens (1 store box), Finnish specimens (1 store box) and my existing European specimens (1 store box). Having everything together in one place makes ...

Finnish finished

Finnish finished
Just packaged up some flies to go back to Jari in Finland – he lent me some of his Malaise trapped tachinids to identify, with the promise of sharing the identified ones between us. Towards the end I had to admit defeat with the Siphona sp. (the Finnish fauna is totally different to what I ...

fg-taxon-79 (Atacta sp.) 2

fg-taxon-79 (Atacta sp.)
This is another really lovely tachinid of medium size but with everything very rounded. The head is similar to some of the Goniini and even the posterior segments of the abdomen are rounded and whitened. UPDATE (30/1/2010): After comparing with the material at the NHM in London I think this is a species of Belvosia ...

Cordyligaster analis (Sophiini, fg-taxon-78) 2

Cordyligaster analis (Sophiini, fg-taxon-78)
This spectacular fly looks very similar in style to European Mintho spp., but it is in fact a dexiine from the tribe Sophiini. The body length is 13mm, which makes is quite a large species, the calyptrae are very small and the palps are covered with small bristlets. It seems fairly obvious that it is ...

fg-taxon #77 (Chrysoexorista sp.)

fg-taxon #77 (Chrysoexorista sp.)
This is possibly the most beautiful tachinid I have ever seen. The photos say it all! 🙂 In this taxon the irredescent green colour comes from layers of dusting, rather than the usual duller, green-coloured pigments found in European genera, such as Gymnocheta and Lucilia. It is worth noting that days after this photo was ...

Second batch of flies arrives!!

I have just received the second, long awaited batch of flies from Jean Cerda in French Guiana. Six tubes of mixed familes, all collected between October 2008 and March 2009 in Jean’s Malaise trap. At first glance they are not a lot of tachinids but there are some very interesting taxa that I haven’t seen ...

fg-taxon #70

fg-taxon #70
A large brown taxon with: plumose antennae; bare eyes; slightly protruding mouth edge; brown thorax and abdomen with ornge side patches; wing with rounded bend in median vein and an unusual costal shading pattern – orange in the proximal half; brown in the distal half; legs with an interesting colour pattern too – orange coxae ...

fg-taxon #69 (Billaea group)

fg-taxon #69 (Billaea group)
A large taxon that looks quite sarcophaga-like with: pluomse antennae; bare eyes; wide parafacial; no parafacial bristles and parafrontal restricted to the top of the head; some fine hairs below parafrontals; protruding mouth edge with a few fine bristles on lower facial ridge; rhomboid humeral callus bristles; on the thorax 3 wide vittae + 2 ...

fg-taxon #68

fg-taxon #68
A small dark taxon with plumose arista and hairy eyes; facial ridges with varying numbers of bristles – females with much weaker bristles than males; pre-sutural area dusted but hardly any dusting post-suturally; eyes of male almost touching; bend of m closer to wing margin than rest of the post-angular vein; 3 scutellar pairs – ...

fg-taxon #67 (Hypotachina chrysophora)

fg-taxon #67 (Hypotachina chrysophora)
A really interesting tachinid with a very deep gena (2.5x); bare arista; densely hairy eyes; thorax white dusted with 2 pairs of black vittae; 3 very strong scutellar bristles – apicals possibly absent; abdominal dusting all over T3-5 with a pair of black undusted triangles on each segment; calyptrae with long white hairs on the ...

fg-taxon #64

(pictures to follow) This is another small black & grey-dusted species but with a few quite distictive features: hairy arista; bare eyes; strong facial-ridge bristles between 2/5 and 1/2 of the way up from the vibrissae to the base of the antennae; ocellar triangle is a short/compressed isosceles triangle; small diverging apical scutellars; excavation only ...

fg-taxon #63 (close to Borgmeiermyia sp.)

(photographs to follow) At first glance just a small, black & grey-dusted tachinid but this taxon has hidden depth. The most distinctive feature when sorting is the orange coxae on all legs – a quite unusual feature. The male genitalia are also quite easy to spot, being quite rounded & hairy often with some orange-colouration. ...

fg-taxon #62 (Pseudochaeta sp.)

fg-taxon #62 (Pseudochaeta sp.)
This is one of my favourite tachinids – an absolute beauty. The photos don’t do it justice but this taxon is incredibly shiny and deep black in colour with silvery-grey dusting on the parafacial, pleurae and anterior corners of tergites 3-5. The head is very rounded with no ocellar bristles and a deep facial concavity ...

fg-taxon #57 (poss. Deopalpus sp.)

fg-taxon #57 (poss. Deopalpus sp.)
An interesting taxon with bare eyes, bare arista, hairy r4+5 and a hugely concave post-angular vein with a quite large appendix. Also has other distinctive features, such as a hairy parafacial, humeral-callus triangle, projecting mouth edge and quite a shiny black ground colour. EDIT (Monty Wood 26/9/2010): This is most likely a Deopalpus sp. but ...

fg-taxon #56

fg-taxon #56
This is another taxon with plumose antenna and a deep gena. This specimen isn’t in great condition but there is another with better wings and otherwise is absolutely identical to this specimen.

fg-taxon #55 (unknown dexiine)

fg-taxon #55 (unknown dexiine)
This is a nice little brightly-marked taxon with bright orange abdominal side patches, contrasting with a dark black body colour; shaded wings; small orange antenna with a plumose arista; and quite a deep gena. Unfortunately my only specimen is not in the best of condition. EDIT (Monty Wood 26/9/2010): This is an unknown genus in ...