Tachinid flies are a very diverse group of flies with very specialised life histories.  The great majority of species are parasitoids of the juvenile stages of a wide range of invertebrate orders such as Lepidoptera, Coleoptera and Hemiptera, but hosts also include some Hymenoptera, Diptera, Dermaptera and Phasmids.  At the time of writing, there are 284 Tachinid species currently known from the UK.

Chris Raper and Matt Smith co-organise the UK Tachinid Recording scheme and have been working on this group for over 20 years.   The current excellent RES Handbook by Robert Belshaw is now out of date due to many new species being found in the UK since it was published, and the aim is to produce a new Tachinid handbook in the future.

The Dipterists Forum – Society for the study of flies (Diptera)
Affiliated to the British Entomological and Natural History Society (BENHS)

The Dipterists Forum was established to encourage and support all aspects of the study of flies, such as their identification, taxonomy, behaviour, ecology, recording and conservation.  Each spring a workshop is held at Preston Montford to train people in the identification and biology of a selected fly group.

The Forum offers a small number of bursaries for this event, awarded on a competitive basis. Each bursary covers half the total cost including accommodation costs. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please see the details on the Forum website

Tutors

Chris Raper

(Natural History Museum, London)

Chris has specialised in the identification of Tachinid flies since the year 2000, after attending the first Tachinid workshop run by the Dipterist’s Forum and Robert Belshaw, the author of the 1993 RES Handbook. It was after this workshop that he and Matt Smith decided to start to UK Tachinid Recording Scheme.

He works in the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Nature at the Natural History Museum, London, where he runs the Identification & Advisory Service and maintains the UK Species Inventory, the database of all UK wildlife and their names, used by biological recording and reporting systems.

Matt Smith

(Self-employed Entomological Consultant)

Matt is a entomologist with an interest in various groups, including Tachinid flies, and has helped co-organise the Tachinid Recording Scheme since its inception.

Example Timetable

Provisional Timetable:

Friday evening

  • Introductory seminar/talk and group discussion about our experiences with tachinids and any of the sticking points that attendees have when working on the group.
  • The speakers will outline some of the changes that have happened since the previous Tachinid workshop at Preston Montford.
  • Tutors will be available to check material and get people started.

Saturday

(We will cover multiple areas according to everyone’s experience)

  • Beginners will be walked through how to interpret the key features.
  • Tutors will go through some of the new species that have arrived in the UK and in particular look at any material from “Gymnochaeta viridis” and “Tachina fera” to see if we can find any of the new taxa lurking amongst them.
  • Chris will check any identified material.

Sunday

  • Practical identification of specimens.

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • A binocular microscope and light source (if you do not have your own, please ask to borrow this equipment from Preston Montford prior to the workshop).
  • Equipment for handling specimens such as forceps, pieces of plastazote, pins for fixing notes etc.
  • Specimens collected by yourself for identification.
  • Pen and paper for note taking.
  • A USB memory stick or flash drive could be useful.

Essential Reading

  • Attendees will need access to a copy of the RES handbook to Tachinid Flies by Robert Belshaw. Printed & digital copies of the new draft keys will be provided but this will refer to figures in the original handbook.

Opportunities to attend this course

This course is not currently available to book. Dates will follow soon.

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