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Moving on

 
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How did you learn to identify hoverflies?
I didn't
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
By asking questions on (this) forum
20%
 20%  [ 1 ]
From a general guide, like Insects of Britain & W Europe
60%
 60%  [ 3 ]
On a course
20%
 20%  [ 1 ]
Total Votes : 5

Author Message
SteveF48



Joined: 27 Jan 2010
Posts: 5
Location: Deal, Kent

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:49 pm    Post subject: Moving on Reply with quote

I've been trying to identify hoverflies for about 6 years and it has become obvious that the books available in the high street, or from general online booksellers, have severe limitations.
It embarrasses me to have to keep asking other people to identify my sightings, but there don't seem to be any alternatives. This forum, and others, recommends British Hoverflies: An Illustrated Identification Guide by Alan Stubbs and Steven Falk, but it's as rare as hen's teeth. A couple of specialist booksellers say that they have it in stock, but at something like 33% more than the normal £30.
I did hope that this site might be a lifeline, but to use it you really need to have some idea which hoverfly you've seen, so it isn't much use to clueless old me:-)
There's a facility to search for species that have been seen in one's postcode area, but no facility to download the list. I live in East Kent, so there are 87 species over 5 pages, a single downloadable file would be heaven, especially if it included drawings, or photographs.
In short, my problem is how can I identify hoverflies on my own? I'd willingly ask for help in the unlikely event that I discover a rare species. There don't seem to be any classes in travelling distance and none of the reference books are available for sensible prices.
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conopid



Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Shrewsbury, Shropshire

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,
There is no doubt that learning hoverflies is challenging at first. If you can get along to a training day it is certainly worth while.

I managed to become reasonably proficient in a season, but I was lucky in that I had access to a microscope, a copy of Stubbs & Falk and plenty of time to catch and identify hoverflies. One thing you must do is take specimens to pin and observe under the microscope. Do you do this? If not you may find it remains difficult to identify hoverflies beyond the fifty or so "easy" ones.

It's not clear from your posting whether or not you have a copy of Stubbs & Falk? If not, you should be able to purchase a copy here: http://www.benhs.org.uk/portal/node/5

Don't give up yet. I am sure that somehow, through the recording scheme assistance can be provided. There may even be a local member of the scheme who can provide some mentoring?

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Nigel Jones
Shrewsbury
Shropshire
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brianh



Joined: 23 Oct 2008
Posts: 150

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With few exceptions it will be necessary to catch the hoverfly and identify using a stereo microscope.
The latest edition of Stubbs and Falk is available from Amazon at £30 with free postage.
If you are photographing the hoverflies then this forum may be able to help, with the proviso that most cannot be confidently identified to species from a photograph (although they can usually be reduced to a couple of alternatives).
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SteveF48



Joined: 27 Jan 2010
Posts: 5
Location: Deal, Kent

PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:59 pm    Post subject: Amazon Reply with quote

I ordered a copy from Amazon UK a couple of weeks ago, but it's out of stock with no idea when it will be available.
I do photographs everything I can, but haven't taken any specimens.
My motto is take nothing, but photographs, leave nothing but footprints. I realise that this will limit what I can identify.
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Brian & Stephanie Lit



Joined: 14 Apr 2006
Posts: 10
Location: Fife

PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve,

We can sympathise with the view of Ďtake no specimensí, thatís where we started from 15 years ago. You soon realise the severe limitations that you have put on yourself. We started by working our way from birds where the Victorians did all the shooting, now ringing and live trapping and high power optics sort out the ID difficulties. Then on to the big inverts, moths, butterflies dragonflies Ė you soon find out with moths you new specimens for many micros and an experienced hand to help out, the only way to polish your developing skills. Once you get on to flies, even hoverflies you start to struggle with the bulk of the species. I think most experienced people start with a microscope and Stubbs and Falk, hone their ID skills then are able to sort out the more obvious species from the difficult things. A steep learning curve, but a very valuable and enjoyable one. Photos and field Ids are OK for the bigger obvious things but if you come home with 30 photos of the wrong bit of the hoverfly you may only get to genus. But that leaves around 50% of the less easy to ID species being ignored, data sets become skewed to the large commonly IDd things the rest, well who knows Ė we wonít!
If I was to advise you it would be record in any way that suits you all accurate recording is valuable, but get as much help as you can Ė from the forum or a local expert enthusiast. We took the view very early on that everything new gets checked that way we minimize mistakes and learn from them. Also, that as far as possible we waste as few specimens as possible, they are given to other people as reference material of if important offered to the local museum collection. You also donít do out and kill everything in sight, weíre selective, if we donít know what it is or itís a difficult group it goes home. We take a couple of hovers (boys and girls) of a certain shape, colour pattern from a site Ė not everything we come across. So itís not all bad news. Youíll have heard this a dozen times but if you drive you almost certainly kill more hoverflies a year that you would collecting.
Whatever you decide Stubs and Falk ed 2 will help and all your records will be valuable.
I hope this helps,
Good luck and good recording.
Brian
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SteveF48



Joined: 27 Jan 2010
Posts: 5
Location: Deal, Kent

PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:05 am    Post subject: Hoverfly IDs Reply with quote

Thanks Brian, that was really useful.
I always assume that what I've seen must be very common for it to appear in my patch. As I said previously I'm embarrassed by my ignorance and don't like to keep asking other people; but if that's what it takes until Stubbs & Falk arrives, so be it.
Of course another problem is actually identifying a mystery insect as a hoverfly Confused (See attached)
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conopid



Joined: 03 Sep 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Shrewsbury, Shropshire

PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a Therevid fly - * near impossible to ID to species without a specimen and even then they can defy identification. The most commonly encountered species is Thereva nobilis.

On the catch or not debate, like most modern naturalists I am reluctant to kill stuff, but I confess that I do take a quite a few specimens. What I find is that there are often quite a few species about, when one could easily assume that there is just one common species on the wing. I once took four Eupeodes home and on closer examination they were four different species! The reality is that it's just not possible to record many species without getting specimens under a microscope or hand lens. Still, as Brian says all records are welcome, even if they are restricted to species that can be named in the field.

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Shropshire
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peterbolson



Joined: 01 Oct 2007
Posts: 67

PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Steve
You could always try what I do, which is to anaesthetise them with ethyl acetate in a killing jar for a couple of minutes ( until they lie motionless on their back ). It takes them upto about 5 minutes to recover during which time you can photograph them & examine with the microscope. I then put them in the fridge, where they will survive for several days, and repeat the "anaesthetic" as required.
I did this with the M.lasiophthalma in my last posting which Roger identified for me, and released it with apparently no harm done. I have since caught several more which I have now been able to identify with ease.
This method obviously has limitations and wouldn't be satisfactory for really difficult or rare species but it I feel I get more reliable results than with photographs taken in the field, & it eases my conscience.
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Roger K.A. Morris



Joined: 06 Nov 2005
Posts: 1652

PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a few quick thoughts:

1. If you want a copy of Stubbs and Falk then getting it from BENHS is the best bet - there are I think about 500 copies in stock.

2. If you are a member of BENHS or Dipterists Forum then it comes at a discount of £10.00

3. If you are not a member of DF or BENHS then I recommend joining DF - it costs £6.00 and for that you also get the Dipterists Starter Pack which is worth the £6 alone!

4. Stuart & I run courses on ID fairly regularly - we are in Cardiff this weekend and are doing one for FSC at Preston Montford in August. Let us know where you are based and we will se what we know of in terms of possible courses.

Regards

Roger
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SteveF48



Joined: 27 Jan 2010
Posts: 5
Location: Deal, Kent

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 1:02 pm    Post subject: My location Reply with quote

I tried to add my location to my profile, but failed.
I live in Deal on the Kent coast.
Kent Wildlife Trust do run some courses, but they are usually held in Maidstone, or Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. Both places are difficult for me to get to as I don't have a car, my wife does, but she needs it for work.
This year's program has introductions to insects and moths, which sound a bit basic.
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pierre mille



Joined: 14 Feb 2010
Posts: 67
Location: Conflans Ste Honorine in France (Val d'Oise)

PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:05 am    Post subject: subscription Reply with quote

Hello evrey one,

I am interested in the subscription and Benha Dipterists Forum. I am a French who lives 25 km from Paris. Is what you believe is possible? I know that the book is a good book and I would like to acquire the property.


Best wishes Pierresu

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PIERRE
http://cyrille.dussaix.pagesperso-orange.fr
http://www.diptera.info
http://www.atlashymenoptera.net
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pierre mille



Joined: 14 Feb 2010
Posts: 67
Location: Conflans Ste Honorine in France (Val d'Oise)

PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:06 am    Post subject: subscription Reply with quote

Hello evrey one,

I am interested in the subscription and Benha Dipterists Forum. I am a French who lives 25 km from Paris. Is what you believe is possible? I know that the book is a good book and I would like to acquire the property.


Best wishes
Pierre

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PIERRE
http://cyrille.dussaix.pagesperso-orange.fr
http://www.diptera.info
http://www.atlashymenoptera.net
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pierre mille



Joined: 14 Feb 2010
Posts: 67
Location: Conflans Ste Honorine in France (Val d'Oise)

PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:08 am    Post subject: subscription Reply with quote

I was wrong I wrote too soon, it's BENHS I am sorry Sad
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PIERRE
http://cyrille.dussaix.pagesperso-orange.fr
http://www.diptera.info
http://www.atlashymenoptera.net
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