[Syrphidae] Efficiency of trapping methods for flower flies

Kumar Ghorpade blossomfly1973 at yahoo.co.in
Wed Jun 1 08:25:54 BST 2005

Hello fellow dipterists (not just syrphid workers, I hope) ,
    Chris' "lazy" message enquiring about traps and syrphids seems a good excuse to enter your discussion site and introduce myself and my work.  I have been researching the Syrphidae (and a few other fly families, mainly Brachycera and Cyclorrhapha Aschiza) since 1973, professionally, and Chris was my Advisor when I spent more than a year at the Smithsonian Institution (not "Institute" !!) in 1982-83 as a Post-doctoral Fellow.
    On return to India I faced problems with academic "politics" here and so opted to rather work on whatever research projects that came my way (one on Tiger Beetles, Coleoptera: Cicindelidae; another on our Butterflies, etc.)  largely as a "freelancer" living on our family farm, doing agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry.  Hover-fly research has been my "lifeline" (cure for insanity !)  and both specimens and databases have been building up slowly but steadily through field surveys all over India.  I am now a recognized Post-Graduate teacher at the Entomology Department of the Agricultural University at Dharwar (Universities small town east of Goa, in northern Karnataka State, southern India) and am looking for joint research projects and grants to work in collaboration with foreign Institutions (and interested colleagues), at my base in Dharwar.      
    More details on my publications (some 200+ ; I am also an ornithologist and still working on Coccinellidae and a couple of other beetle families also), and personal collection (200,000+), can be sent to those who may be interested, but suffice it now to tell you that I am back full time with serious biosystematic (plus biogeography and evolution) research on Oriental Syrphidae. My doctoral and post-doctoral work on the Tribe Syrphini of the Indian sub-continent is now being updated and expanded (loan material from other S. & SE. Asian countries being included) and single papers on each of the 30 genera (2 new, 1974) are being finalised for publication from this year on.  The first, on Agnisyrphus Ghorpade (gen. nov., published in 1974) is almost ready.  I would welcome getting in working touch with any of you who may want to communicate with me and perhaps think of joint projects/papers in future on their special taxa with me ?  At Washington, DC I also began a revision of
 Oriental Sciomyzidae (with Dr Lloyd Knutson) and completed a paper on Brachydeutera (Ephydridae) with Dr Wayne Mathis. Later Chris and I published our first major paper on Oriental Paragus in my own journal Colemania in 1992. 
     Coming to Chris' mention about trapping methods, I may say that after getting a first look at the Malaise Trap in 1973, I have been using this absolutely superb "machine" in the field for many years.  My introduction to the also useful Yellow Pan Trap came in 1979 and this has also been operated since. Specially between 1986 and 1991, I have used both these trapping devices on my family farm, some 14 km outside Bangalore City (which some fellow entomologists from abroad have visited), all round the year, with fairly good results and many surprises !  Let me sum it up by saying that the MT is anything from 3 to 10 times more productive than the YPT, but using both together does result in catches that just one of them would've "missed" !  I am not a statistical buff (highly suspicious of such work, especially that based on poor databases) but if it would interest most of you I may sit down and make a qualitative analysis of my MT and YPT trapping done during the above 5 years
 continuosuly on the farm, using my collection diaries and specimens collected/trapped database.  One observation was that  the MT and its many variants, if placed in correct situations, needs to be looked at further.  Dr John Noyes (BMNH, London; chalcid worker) who introduced me to the YPT, left with me his version of the MT which was just about 4 feet (little more than a meter) in height.  I found that this model was useful in trapping many of the smaller flies (plus micro-hymenoptera, of course !) that I had either not taken by hand net or with the "taller" MT models so far on my farm.  I got some micro-Bombyliidae, many many Pipunculidae, smaller Asilidae, Therevidae, Stratiomyiidae, Miltogramminae (of Sarcophagidae) and other tiny fellows which usually fly very close to ground level. I have used the 4-way, 2-way and the 2-way but wider with 6 entry enclosures (each with a collecting bottle) which my UZM, Copenhagen colleagues had left with me in 1976.  The MT is a fantastic
 trap for sampling flies (and other fast flying insects, not so much Coleoptera or even butterflies which latter are cleverer and do brainy "about turns" !), but preventing them from being "stolen" in India (even YPT trays !) is a real problem. 
    As to other "trapping methods," I may call attention to the very well compiled book, on Insect and other arthropod collecting as Part 1 of the series "Insects and Arachnids of Canada," by J.H. Martin (1977: 152-160, Diptera).  Here, "natural baits" are suggested and also spraying a solution of fresh malt extract diluted with water on foliage early in the morning and repeating sprays every hour and taking Syrphidae, Tachinidae etc., which come to this liquid spray.  Fresh beer is advocated instead of the malt extract, if handy !  I tried it out a few times but did not find it that productive.  The great book by Colyer & Hammond, "Flies of the British Isles" (1968: 319-351) has a very good chapter on collecting and processing flies.  So also Harold Oldroyd's famous book "Collecting, preserving and studying insects" which was my "bible" when I had started this madness (!) in 1968.  Dr Oldroyd had then actually encouraged me to specialise on Diptera in 1973, after my professors at
 the Bangalore Agricultural University suggested I select Syrphidae for my M.Sc. research, instead of the Coccinellidae which I had "fallen in love with" then but which were better known here.  So here I am !
    I apologise for this longish mail but in future will try to be more precise and brief. Really, hunting for syrphids with a net and where wildflowers (or even cultivated flower beds in Botanical or home gardens !) are aplenty is the best, most healthy and fascinating experience.  Looking for larvae, especially of predacious species, and then rearing them out, waiting for unknown maggots to metamorphose into "Frog Princes" is rejuvenating and "mind blowing" if we can use this modern, punky, catch phrase !  I also publish a journal on Insect Biosystematics and can promise a quick publication time (1-5 months only) if page charges are paid and the MS has been already refereed by specialist experts.  Best wishes,

christian thompson <cthompson at sel.barc.usda.gov> wrote:
Sorry, but I am lazy today

Beyond Jennifer Owen's landmark study of the flower flies in her garden
(1991*) are there any other good long term studies that report the
efficiency of various trapping methods to sample the flower fly fauna?
As I remember it, Jennifer was able over the first 15 years to recover
about 70% of the fauna and able to get most of that in the first 3

And are there any good studies on comparison between methods like pan
traps versus malaise traps.


*And yes, I do remember that Francis published an up-date on Jennifer's

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
c/o Smithsonian Institution
MRC-0169 NHB
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov e-mail
www.diptera.org web site

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Dr Kumar Ghorpade, B.Sc.(Agri.),M.Sc.,Ph.D (Entomol.)
Smithsonian Institution (U.S.A.) Postdoc Fellow (1982-1983)
Systematic Entomologist & P.-G. Teacher, Dept Entomology, Univ. Agril Sci., Dharwar, Karnataka (India)
Post to: C/o Azman Farm, Doddagubbi P.O., Bangalore 562 149, INDIA
Yahoo! India Matrimony: Find your life partneronline.
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