32. Phoridae – backlog

Wherever I turn there are things needing to be done, and the Year of the Fly has just given me a another area in which to fall behind. Because it is spring I still have the illusion that the garden can be kept in order, a hope that a couple more weeks will sink with the lawn perpetually needing to be mown and the weeds stealthily overwhelming the vegetables. And because it is spring the bees are busy and thinking of swarming so I need to have supers and brood boxes prepared with frames and beeswax foundation ready for new colonies and honey, but they are sure to outpace me. And since it is spring, some spring cleaning should be undertaken, though detritus will no doubt accumulate in tidied areas as fast as I can clear them. And now that it is spring and the weather might at last be suitable there is ravaged paintwork on the windows that needs a paint … but instead I turn to the next fly in my backlog.

Since anything I catch that looks easy to identify gets preferential treatment, the backlog consists of small, dark flies that look like trouble. However, perhaps I am now beginning to get my fly eye in, for I looked down the microscope and thought “phorid”. The clues are the hunched back and the simple pattern of veins with the strong veins all crowded to the base of the leading edge, the other weaker veins more or less parallel and without cross vein. Clinching it are the strong bristles on the head and wings and the flattened hind femur whose concave surface can be seen glinting in the light.

From a previous bout of enthusiasm I have a key to the family in two volumes by R.H.L Disney, both written in the 1980s, one with a key to the genera (this fly is Megaselia I think, though dark hairs on a dark fly are hard to make out). The other volume has a key to the 200 odd species of Meagaselia, but of males only, and with the instruction that phorids should be preserved in alcohol rather than pinned. So since it is spring and the sun is shining and the leaves are green and the birds are singing and the flies are flying, I am content to leave it unidentified, for the moment, and instead go for a walk in the woods with the cats. There is a time for everything, and the time for scuttle flies is some way off!

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