Powerstock surprises

Powerstock surprises
Went over to Powerstock Common (West Dorset) today and, much to my surprise, I actually saw some good insects. Powerstock is a real gem of a nature reserve (mixtures of woodland, grassland & heath) but in the past I have failed to find much there in the Diptera line and the place was riddled with ...

My first stacks 7

My first stacks
Yesterday Malcolm Storey (bioimages.org.uk) brought over some new equipment he had just bought for photo-stacking, along with a ‘kit’ including a spare dSLR (3MP Nikon D100) and macro lenses. The real star of the equipment is Malcolm’s new StackShot – an automated system for racking a camera through pre-defined focus points and taking the photos ...

Last year’s tachinids all identified – finally! 1

Last year's tachinids all identified - finally!
I have finally finished going through the tachinids that I caught last year and putting names to them. It wasn’t as hard as it might seem because most of them were common species that I am very familiar with but it was still quite time consuming: The top box is full of tachinids, with a ...

A Spring walk round Moor Copse

A Spring walk round Moor Copse
There was less sun than the weather forecast had promised but it was still quite a mild day (18C) so I went for a troll round Moor Copse. There were plenty of Gymnocheta viridis on sunny fence posts and tree trunks but no other tachinids – just lots of muscids and calliphorids with a few ...

Pantophthalmus little & large 2

Pantophthalmus little & large
Here are a couple of French Guianan Pantophthalmus spp. that I picked up from Erica’s volunteers at the NHM today (Pantophthalmus indet. on the left (22mm) and Pantophthalmus tabanninus (dark form) on the right (45mm)). They illustrate very nicely the wide range of sizes in the pantophthalmids – assumingly due to different rates of feeding ...

Some more Pantophthalmus from French Guiana 2

Some more Pantophthalmus from French Guiana
On Tuesday Erica McAlister lent me some pantophthalmids from a sample she had been sent by SEAG in French Guiana. Today I went through them identifying them to species and taking a few photos. The sample of 4 specimens was fairly typical for French Guiana – Pantophthalmus batesi (female), P.tabaninus (female) in normal colouration, P.tabaninus ...

pe-taxon #32 (Peru)

pe-taxon #32 (Peru)
This is a lovely little taxon, with matt-black ground colour and bright pale-grey bands of dusting on the thorax and abdomen. It fails to achieve a convincing result in MCAD.

possibly Hyphantrophaga sp. (Peru)

possibly Hyphantrophaga sp. (Peru)
This keys to Hyphantrophaga sp. but it needs confirming. EDIT (6/01/2011): Monty has said that this genus is quite anonymous and difficult to split … but they sometimes have hairs on the hind coxa (like Carcelia) and one of my 2 specimens does have this feature so I am tentatively assigning them to Hyphantrophaga.

3x Mystacella sp. (Peru)

3x Mystacella sp. (Peru)
These photos illustrate 3 species of Mystacella – a tachinid that, like Chrysoexorista, is a beautiful metallic green (sometimes across the whole body, but at the very least on the thorax) in life but this fades to golden brown when dead. Mystacella have the vibrissae emerging quite high above the mouth edge and a very ...

Austrophorocera cf. yahuarphrynoides (Townsend) (French Guiana)

Austrophorocera cf. yahuarphrynoides (Townsend) (French Guiana)
This one keys out nicely to Austrophorocera but this determination will need confirming. The abdomen has a fascinating and highly distinctive tuft of orange hair on the genitalia. EDIT (5/01/2011): Monty has confirmed this genus and said that the tuft of hairs looks like A. yahuarphrynoides (Townsend) but there are apparently a few similar species.

French Guianan evanioids 3

French Guianan evanioids
Today I had a request for some specimens of Evaniidae from Ricardo Kawada, a PhD student and researcher in Sao Paulo. This forced me to go over my French Guianan evanoids and I thought that I would take some photos while I was at it: * many thanks to Ricardo Kawada & David Smith for ...

Finnish tachinids 2010

Finnish tachinids 2010
A week ago I received a really nice parcel of tachinids from Jari Flinck in Finland and today I had time to sort over them for the first time and take some photos. Here is the list so far: Billaea kolomyetzi (a male and 2 females – very nice), Campylocheta inepta, Tachina fera, Cylindromyia spp. (brassicaria, pusilla & ...

Calolydella geminata complex (Costa Rica)

Calolydella geminata complex (Costa Rica)
Adrian Pont gave me this rather beautiful Costa Rican tachinid recently and it instantly reminded me of the Eucelatoria sp. that I had been working on from Bolivia and French Guiana. The deep matt velvety black contrasting with the yellow dusting stripes, combined with the elongate body and legs are all quite distinctive features. When ...

Atactosturmia ??? (Surinam)

Atactosturmia ??? (Surinam)
Yet another fly that keys to Atactosturmia … would be nice one day to know which of them really are Atactosturmia 😉

Icelia (Ervia?) sp. (Surinam)

Icelia (Ervia?) sp. (Surinam)
An interesting species that superficially looked similar to the Uramya from the same batch but this has bare eyes. EDIT (26/11/2010): Monty Wood says that this looks correct as Icelia but that Ervia is a close sister genus – possibly even the same thing when all is said and done.

Various interesting Polideini (Surinam)

Various interesting Polideini (Surinam)
The Polideini is becoming one of my favourite tribes because they have such unusual features. Most tachinids have a disc-like, hairy lappet covering the metathoracic spiracle (the hind one on the thorax) but the Polideini all have paired hairy lappets that don’t quite meet at the top, leaving a little hole. They also have a ...

close to Spathidexia (Gymnopalpus) setipennis (Surinam)

close to Spathidexia (Gymnopalpus) setipennis (Surinam)
This one keys quite confidently to Uramya sp. but it is a female so it lacks any tails that might confirm the determination. EDIT (26/11/2010): Monty has said that this is incorrect – it looks closer to Spathidexia and is possibly Spathidexia (Gymnopalpus) setipennis.

Pseudosiphona sp. (Surinam)

Pseudosiphona sp. (Surinam)
Pseudosiphona is a very common genus in the neotropics – in these photos you can see the small labellum (much shorter than in Siphona) and the katepisternal bristle arrangement (with the strong lower bristle close to the posteroventral edge) typical of this genus.

Pelecotheca s.g. Cryptocladocera (male) (Surinam)

Pelecotheca s.g. Cryptocladocera (male) (Surinam)
The Surinamese batch of flies from Menno yielded quite a lot of male Cryptocladocera – here are just 2.

Acaulona or Xanthomelanopsis ??? (French Guiana & Surinam)

Acaulona or Xanthomelanopsis ??? (French Guiana & Surinam)
Acaulona & Xanthomelanopsis look very similar to Pennapoda spp. but without the leaf-like antero-dorsal bristles on the hind tibia. The only difficulty with these flies is that I just can’t make up my mind whether they have enough dorsocentrals to qualify as Xanthomelanopsis.