The challenge

Since 2019 is the Year of the Fly I thought it was time to dust off my boyhood interest in flies and see how many families of flies I could see through the year. Each time I see one from a new family I will write a post, and by the end of the year I hope to know my way around them.

You probably know more families of flies than you realise – hoverflies (Syrphidae), crane flies or daddy-long-legs (Tipulidae), bluebottles and greenbottles (Calliphoridae), house flies (Muscidae) and midges (Ceratopogonidae) – that’s five without getting too obscure! According to the Checklist of British Diptera there are 106 families to be found in the UK, although many of these are represented by small numbers of species, or are rare or unlikely to be found in southern Scotland, and so I reckon I will be doing very well to get to 50.

If you want to join me in the challenge, there are descriptions of all the British fly families on the Dipterists Forum website, and if you join them (for a very reasonable £8 a year), you will have access to an identification key. You might want to make yourself a net (coat hanger, gauze and stick will do) and you will need some kind of magnification – digital cameras are getting very good at this, or you can use a hand lens or, if you are very keen, a binocular microscope. Let the fun begin!