Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Systematics of Flies of Agricultural and Environmental Importance

Location: Systematic Entomology

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
ARS is interested in performing research to increase and enhance understanding of the systematics of flies (Diptera) important to agriculture and the environment, especially fruit flies, leaf-mining flies, tachinid flies, soldier flies, and wheat pests and their parasitoids. We will develop new identification tools (descriptions, diagnoses, molecular markers, illustrations, keys and computer identification systems), determine the correct names of species and higher taxa, and elucidate the relationships (phylogeny) and classification of select groups of these flies, which include invasive crop pests, parasitoids of plant pests, and potential biological control agents for weeds. The objectives of our project are:.
1)Investigate the taxonomy and natural history of Central American and other New World fruit flies; analyze species concepts, develop diagnoses, descriptions, illustrations and identification keys, determine host plants, and analyze phylogenetic relationships;.
2)Conduct molecular analysis of pest leaf-mining, galling, and fruit flies, and their parasitoids, including sequencing of DNA of previously unstudied species, development of diagnostic tools, and analysis of phylogenetic relationships;.
3)Investigate taxonomy of New World tachinid flies and soldier flies; analyze species concepts, develop diagnoses, descriptions, illustrations and identification keys, and analyze phylogenetic relationships;.
4)Provide scientific identifications of plant-feeding and other agriculturally important flies, and.
5)Investigate and compile molecular characters for pests and beneficial insects within wheat and grassland habitats to document host patterns and discover possible cryptic species and host races.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
ARS will undertake research to generate morphological and molecular characters (DNA sequences) that will be used to test species concepts and hypotheses of relationship among agriculturally important flies, wheat pests, and parasitoid wasps that attack them. These data also will be used to develop new diagnostic tools (descriptions, illustrations, keys) to permit more rapid and accurate identification of these flies, wasps, and wheat pests. Databases containing scientific names, distributions, taxonomic literature, and host plant and specimen data pertaining to fruit flies will be expanded and disseminated to the user community. These and other taxonomic tools will be made accessible to the public via publications, the internet, and other electronic media. Timely and accurate identifications of flies will be provided, including those intercepted at ports-of-entry by APHIS-PPQ or submitted by a wide range of scientists and regulatory agencies, and portions of the National Collection in the National Museum of Natural History, a vital tool for research and identification, will be maintained and expanded.


3.Progress Report
Taxonomy and natural history of Central American and other New World fruit flies. Progress on the taxonomy of Anastrepha, the largest and most economically important group of fruit flies in the American tropics, included completed descriptions for 14 new species, discovery of additional new species, and further development of an electronic identification tool for this group. Data for most fruit fly species that occur in sub-Saharan Africa were added to a host plant database for all fruit flies. Samples of a variety of fruit flies were collected and preserved in alcohol in order to study their DNA and discover new molecular characters useful for species discrimination and analysis of relationships among fruit flies. Primers have been tested on species from two subfamilies.

Molecular analysis of pest leaf-mining, galling, fruit flies, and their parasitoids. Molecular analysis of geographic populations of the vegetable pests L. huidobrensis and L. langei continued. A molecular survey of 665 specimens from California determined that the pest species attacking vegetable crops in California is L. langei rather than the more widespread L. huidobrensis. Analysis of DNA sequence data from L. huidobrensis from throughout its native range indicated that it may be possible to determine the geographic origins of invasive populations. Additional sequence data that can be used for molecular identification were collected for parasitoid wasps in several families that attack plant-feeding flies.

Taxonomy of New World tachinid flies and soldier flies. Tachinid fly specimens (Belvosia) were borrowed from major museums, almost certainly representing all North American species. Specimens were identified as far as possible for taxa already named, and two or three new species were recognized. Illustrations critical for making identifications have been completed for the male genitalia of some species. Specimens of soldier flies (Arcuavena, Berismyia, and Paraberismyia) have been borrowed from major museums. Most were diagnosed to morphospecies level, and work has begun on writing a taxonomic review of the species of Paraberismyia. Genitalic parts critical for species diagnosis have been prepared for illustration for some species.

Scientific identification of agriculturally important flies. In the period from October 1, 2010 to June 28, 2011, 549 submittals (2,002 specimens) were identified, including more than 233 “urgent” submittals for USDA-APHIS-PPQ of specimens intercepted on perishable commodities at ports-of-entry.


4.Accomplishments
1. Identification tool for flies of Central America. Flies are one of the megadiverse groups of insects with more than 150,000 known species. Thousands of fly species are important to agriculture as plant pests, disease vectors, biological control agents of weeds or harmful insects, pollinators, and nutrient-recyclers. The ability to identify individual species is crucial to control and prevent the entry of pests into the U.S., and to successfully manage the beneficial species. ARS researchers in Washington, DC, were part of an international team of collaborators that produced the Manual of Central American Diptera, a comprehensive, extensively illustrated, two-volume book that provides identification keys to all fly families and genera (primary groupings of species) that occur in Central America. ARS members of this team contributed to 19 of the 113 chapters, many based upon original research. This work will be the primary identification manual used by regulatory agencies, including USDA/APHIS, and scientists to identify Central American flies for decades to come.


Review Publications
Davies, K.A., Ye, W., Giblin-Davis, R.M., Taylor, G.S., Scheffer, S.J., Thomas, W.K. 2010. Revision of the Australasian genus Fergusobia (Nematoda: Neotylenchida), with molecular phylogeny, and descriptions of clades and associated Fergusonina fly larvae. Zootaxa. 2633:1-66.

Jackson, M.D., Marshall, S.A., Hanner, R., Norrbom, A.L. 2011. The fruit flies (Tephritidae) of Ontario. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification. 15:1-251.

Norrbom, A.L., Korytkowski, C.A. 2011. New species of and taxonomic notes on Anastrepha (Diptera: Tephritidae). Zootaxa. 2740:1-23.

Norrbom, A.L., Uchoa, M.A. 2011. New species and records of Anastrepha (Diptera: Tephritidae) from Brazil. Zootaxa. 2835:61-67.

Scheffer, S.J., Lonsdale, O. 2011. Phytomyza omlandi spec. nov. – the first species of Agromyzidae (Diptera: Schizophora) reared from the family Gelsemiaceae (Asteridae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 113(1):42-49.

Fothergill, K., Woodley, N.E., Tindall, K.V. 2010. Zelia tricolor (Coquillett) (Diptera: Tachinidae): New host records. Florida Entomologist. 93(4):637-638.

Woodley, N.E., Mcalpine, D. 2010. Heleomyzidae. In: Brown, B.V., Borkent, A., Cumming, J.M., Wood, D.M., Woodley, N.E., Zumbado, M.A., editors. Manual of Central American Diptera. Ontario, Canada: NRC Research Press. p. 1159-1164.

Rozkosny, R., Woodley, N.E. 2010. A new genus and two new species of Oriental Oxycerini (Diptera, Stratiomyidae, Stratiomyinae) with notes on new generic synonyms in two other stratiomyine genera. Insect Systematics & Evolution. 41(3):275-294.

Norrbom, A.L. 2010. Tephritidae (fruit flies, moscas de frutas). Manual of Central American Diptera. 909-954.

Norrbom, A.L., Korytkowski, C.A. 2010. Lonchaeidae. In: Brown,B.V., Borkent,A., Cumming, J.M., Wood, D.M., Woodley, N.E., Zumbado, M., editors. Manual of Central American Diptera. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 857-863.

Ozerov, A.L., Norrbom, A.L. 2010. Piophilidae. In: Brown, B.V., Borkent, A., Cumming J.M., Wood, D.M., Woodley, N.E., Zumbado, M. editors. Manual of Central American Diptera. Ottawa, Canada: National Research Council Press. p.865-869.

Woodley, N.E. 2011. Vitilevumyia, an enigmatic new genus of Stratiomyidae from Fiji (Diptera). Zootaxa. 2821:62-68.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page