Monday, 16 January 2012

The fly with the golden bum

Since publication of the Beyoncé fly story, I’ve been scrutinising horseflies before swatting them. I don’t swat them indiscriminately, you understand, but if one of them lands on me with a view to a chew, then that’s it. I’d rather leave them to fly another day, but I react badly to their bites. To prevent that, I react badly to their presence. I like to think of it not as killing defenceless insects, but as engineering a new breed of faster, cannier blood-suckers.

Although Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae received all the media attention, it is only one of five new species described by Bryan Lessard and David Yeates in the Australian Journal of Entomology. Equally striking is a second new species of goldenfly recorded from the same part of Far North Queensland.

Scaptia (Plinthina) aurifulga — the golden lightning fly — is currently known only from the Davies Creek region, east of Mareeba, where it overlaps the range of the Beyoncé fly. The GL fly is adorned with shimmering golden bands along either side of its abdomen and around its ‘waist’. This is a fly dressed to the nines.

Scaptia (Plinthina) aurifulga Lessard, 2011
(From Lessard and Yeates, 2011)

In future, I will check before I swat. I am extending this courtesy to these flies only. They shouldn’t be too hard to spot, decked out with all that bling. Others get the treatment.

Lessard, B.D. and Yeates, D.K. (2011). New species of the Australian horse fly subgenus Scaptia (Plinthina) Walker 1850 (Diptera: Tabanidae), including species descriptions and a revised key. Australian Journal of Entomology 50: 241 – 252.


magda and crew in australia said...

Is that possibly a staked dressed to the nine's in golden bling fly Snail?
Gruesome if is!
The sight has me understand why Carousel's have always felt dubious to me...

Interesting realising new flies are being noticed...
Are they new? or not noticed before?
If are new... how interesting they are presenting themselves in golden glowingness and want one's blood!

Snail said...

It is staked with a stainless steel pin! I hadn't thought of carousels like that before, Magda, but I see your point. (As it were.) I don't think I'll look at one in the same way now. You're reight --- they are disconcerting.

The specimens were mostly collected in the 1980s, IIRC, but weren't described until late last year. The main problems are a lack of a) collecting effort in places like this and b) experts to study them. So even if specimens are collected, unless someone is actively working on a group, there's little chance of things getting identified, let alone named.

I am definitely going to be looking more closely at flies from now on.