Post Preston Montford thoughts…

For the workshop I compiled a list of species that are new since Belshaw’s 1993 key (41 species) and then also marked onto it the species that were new since the last time we ran the workshop in 2008 (19 species):

  1. Catharosia albisquama (2023)
  2. Tachina magnicornis (2023)
  3. Cylindromyia bicolor (2023)
  4. Gymnocheta magna (2023)
  5. Gymnocheta lucida (2023)
  6. Pales processioneae (2020) [imported with OPM]
  7. Phasia aurigera (2019)
  8. Ectophasia crassipennis (2019)
  9. Eliozeta pellucens (2019)
  10. Carcelia iliaca (2014) [imported with OPM]
  11. Botria subalpina (2013)
  12. Thelyconychia solivaga (2011)
  13. Eumea mitis (2011)
  14. Phytomyptera zonella (2011)
  15. Phytomyptera minutissima (2011)
  16. Blepharipa pratensis (2013)
  17. Leucostoma anthracinum (2009)
  18. Macquartia tessellum (2009) [restored from 1997 record]
  19. Linnaemya picta (2008) misident.
  20. Cylindromyia auriceps (2007)
  21. Bithia demotica (2006) misident.
  22. Opesia grandis (2006)
  23. Thelaira leucozona (2004)
  24. Carcelia laxifrons (2004) misident.
  25. Gymnosoma clavatum (2002) *CI
  26. Peleteria iavana (2002) *CI
  27. Masicera pavoniae (2002) *CI
  28. Prosopea nigricans (2002) *CI
  29. Carcelia bombylans (2002)
  30. Paracraspedothrix montivaga (2002)
  31. Blepharipa schineri (2001)
  32. Phryxe erythrostoma (2000)
  33. Phasia barbifrons (1999) [1986 CMTR record exists]
  34. Siphona hokkaidensis (1999)
  35. Anthomyiopsis plagioderae (1998)
  36. Sturmia bella (1998)
  37. Catharosia pygmaea (1998)
  38. Clytiomya continua (1997)
  39. Siphona (Ceranthia) tristella (1996)
  40. Entomophaga sufferta (1996)
  41. Ceromya flaviseta (1995)

It really goes to show how dynamic this group is and how many new species are still coming into the country, making it an ever changing landscape. Steven Falk also pointed out today that he’d spotted that in my original list I’d missed out Leucostoma anthracinum so that has been added to the list here.

Problems with the keys

On the workshop we had some great ideas for improvement of the keys too:

  • Rob Walton spotted that we need to add Siphona hokkaidensis! Not sure how this one wasn’t spotted in 25 years but it isn’t in the keys, which might explain why nobody is recording it!
  • Colin Le Boutillier pointed out that the key seems to be weak when keying out Opesia cana from grandis so we need to tighten it up a bit – possibly by referencing the grey dusting of cana vs the yellow dusting of grandis. The use of the dark stripes on the front of the thorax seems to be unhelpful as the middle stripe in cana is often very weak.
  • Zaira cinerea seems to key out oddly and the second place that it emerges might never be reached because there seems to be a conflicting couplet earlier in the path. This might be explained by that part of the couplet being reached via one of the few Belshaw shortcuts / resets, where he feeds people back int with big jumps if they have gone wrong. I also noticed that it has a lovely arrangement of 3-pairs of median discal bristles which should be mentioned more clearly.
  • Male Ectophasia crassipennis might fall out of the key earlier than I had expected due to the “Abdomen almost entirely orange” couplet. I need to push a few of these through or toughen up that couplet.
  • In the key to Panzeria Jenni Wilding spotted that nemorum seems to fail the scutellar apicals segment and questioned whether “adjacent” meant the dorsal apicals, not the laterals? This needs checking.
  • My figures for Gymnocheta (taken from Novotna 2009) were missing some figures and were generally a mess. This was just a stop-gap measure until we worked out the best ways to bring out the 3 UK species.
  • Donald Smith spotted that in the key to Linnaemya the couplet splitting rossica and picta seems to have the palp colour the wrong way round – this needs checking.

I’ll take some time to work through the keys and investigate the problems but an updated version should be available fairly soon … I hope!

Things that worked well

Taking my whole collection up there was a brilliant idea in the end. People had tried to talk me out of it because it is a lot of work and there is some considerable risk to the specimens by doing that, but I felt that many experts might want to see some of the more unusual things. In the end, because we had the 2 classrooms, my collection lived in the larger Wenlock one with the long bench along the side and it was a great resource for those studying there. Steve Falk took photos of all the species he didn’t have in his collection.

I also didn’t spot any damage to any specimens or drawers so the method of carrying the drawers upright in the back of the car worked well. My car has a completely flat load space with the back seats folded down and so I started by lining the deck with lots of sheets of bubble wrap. On to that I spread a rough old rug which added more padding but also distributed weight across the bubbles and prevented slipping. The drawers were stacked almost upright but just very slightly at an angle so that if anything dropped off it would still fall into the unit tray. The stacks were then cushioned at each end with pillows.

The way we allowed everyone to just divide themselves between Wenlock & Darwin class rooms also went well because it led to an even mixture of experts and novices in each room. I tend to attract most of the identification confirmation, which meant I was busy at the microscope most fo the first day but people really benefit fro mthose confirmations so it’s worth the effort. Matt picked up a lot of the novice enquiries and made sure they were looking at interesting / instructive material.

Things that didn’t work so well

In my cold-addled head, I’d managed to not send out the link to all the keys before the event which meant people couldn’t have printed them themselves and weren’t immediately aware of the secondary keys available to download. I managed to fix this quickly on the Saturday but it’s one to remember.

I need to also remember to preprepare some little flags to mark where a person has removed a specimen and it would be useful if each person had 2 flags with their names on so we can always know who has which missing specimen. Jane & Marc sorted this out on the day though so it wasn’t a bit problem.

If you can think of anything else that worked well (or not!) then just let me know.