Let’s face it, every fly aficionado has his or her favorite group. The most popular groups of course are the large, attractive ones like flower flies (family Syrphidae) and robber flies (Asilidae). My favorite group, the one I do research on, is called the humpbacked or scuttle flies (Phoridae). I don’t really like either of these common names, however, so I just call them phorids.
Among dipterists, those who work on phorids are considered to be very brave, or, less flatteringly, crazy. There are about 4000 described species, but we think the true total is closer to 30,000 to 50,000 species. Thus, every time we start working on groups , we end up with 10 times as many species as we started with. That’s a lot of biodiversity.
What makes it so rewarding, however, is that there are so many new things to see. I already posted about an amazing new phorid from Thailand. There are plenty more where that came from. Working on phorids is like being a naturalist in the 1800s, exploring and seeing things for the first time. You literally find new things everywhere you look, even in your backyard. There is probably more diversity among species of phorids than there is within any other family of flies. As proof I offer three photographs showing the range of morphology within this family :
I will write in future posts what these flies are, and what they do. For now, I hope they prove my point about phorid structural diversity. Of course they have a huge diversity of lifestyles as well, which is more fodder for future posts.