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Fascinating fly discovery

A new British fly species was recorded at Field Studies Council’s (FSC) Epping Forest field centre recently following an insect conservation course taking place there.

Course tutor Martin Harvey spotted a tiny fly from the ‘scuttle fly’ family. He identified it as Phalacrotophora delageae which isn’t currently on the British species list.

Martin explains: “As the fly appeared to be new to Britain I sent the specimen to Dr Henry Disney, a leading world authority on the family of this fly, Phoridae, who confirmed the identification. However, Dr Disney also traced a previous record of this species back to Tony Irwin of Norfolk Museums. Tony had found this same species in 2006, but never formally published it as new to the UK.

Myself and Tony are now writing up the two records so it can be added to the British list.”

Phalacrophora delageae; credit Tony Irwin

Specimen of the new fly from Epping Forest; credit Martin Harvey and Hope Department of Entomology, Oxford University Museum of Natural History




Dr Disney also has links with FSC having run another field centre FSC Malham Tarn in Yorkshire, and working as a research fellow for the organisation.

This type of fly is particularly interesting as the larvae of the flies in genus Phalacrotophora are parasitoids of ladybird pupae. The fly larvae develop inside the pupae of ladybirds, killing the ladybird in the process. In other parts of the world Phalacrotophora delageae has been reared from the pupae of various ladybird species, including the 7-spot, 2-spot and 10-spot.

The specimen itself has now been added to the world collection of Phoridae held at the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology.

Environmental education charity FSC runs many natural history courses throughout the year at its network of field centres, all led by experts in their field such as Martin.

See FSC insect courses available

Read more about FSC Epping Forest

Thursday, July 18, 2013