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Taxonomy of long-legged flies (Diptera: Dolichopodidae)

Status: 
Action
Dates: 
September, 2000 to March, 2018

Figure 1. The long-legged fly (Erebomyia exalloptera).
Figure 1. The long-legged fly (Erebomyia exalloptera).
The fly family Dolichopodidae, commonly called long-legged flies, is an extremely abundant and diverse group of insects with more than 1,200 species in North America and more than 7,500 species worldwide. Many undescribed species await discovery. Most adults are smaller than a house fly and of a metallic green or bronze color. Adults and larvae are predators and play important roles in the ecosystems in which they occur.

 

Approach

Figure 2. Liancalus pterodactyl is a new species described in 2015.
Figure 2. Liancalus pterodactyl is a new species described in 2015.
The goals of this research are to collect, identify, and describe species and to synthesize relationships and distributions of these flies. Scientist are also providing identifications of species for research collections and scientific studies.

This information is essential if we are to monitor, conserve, and successfully manage public lands – how can we successfully manage lands if we don’t know what species occur there, or if we cannot identify them? Further, this taxonomic research and collections are particularly critical in today’s era of rapid ecological and climate change and is essential to fully understand and address the effects of invasive species, human use, and climate change on forests and grasslands. 

Key Findings

  • The long-legged fly Erebomyia exalloptera is only known from two places in the Coronado National Forest in Arizona. This unique species has two different shaped wings (Fig. 1).

    Liancalus sonorus is a new species of fly discovered in Arizona.
    Liancalus sonorus is a new species of fly discovered in Arizona.

  • Liancalus pterodactyl is a new species collected on waterfalls in the Gallatin National Forest in Montana and described in 2015 (Fig. 2).

  • Liancalus sonorus is a new species collected on waterfalls in the Coronado National Forest in Arizona (Fig. 3).

  • Hurleyella is a new genus of long-legged flies discovered in the Jefferson National Forest in southwest Virginia (Fig. 4). Species in this genus are extremely small–a dozen of them can fit on a grain of rice!

Figure 4. Hurleyella is a new genus of long-legged flies. Adults of this species are incredibly small.
Figure 4. Hurleyella is a new genus of long-legged flies. Adults of this species are incredibly small.



Project Contact: 

Principal Investigators:
Co-Investigators:
Harold Robinson - National Museum of Natural History-Smithsonian Institution
Richard L. Hurley - Montana State University