Collecting Trips and Expeditions

Stiletto flies are poorly represented in the collective museums of the world. This is so because adults, although rather abundant in certain habitats, are by nature secretive and seldom taken, even by the most avid collectors not specifically looking for this group of flies. Because of their poor representation in museums, the old age and often poor condition of pinned specimens that are in the museums, and the need for sampling previously unsurveyed or inappropriately surveyed areas, the Therevid PEET team has embarked on a series of expeditions in carefully selected parts of the world. One overriding reason for expeditions is to obtain fresh specimens of targeted taxa to make available material for ongoing molecular systematics studies to help elucidate evolutionary relationships among taxa.

For other expeditions, additional, well-preserved material is needed simply to be able to better describe the taxa and their morphs (e.g., sexes), the variation within and among populations, and for dissections to reveal internal morphological features to improve and enhance revisionary treatments. Still other expeditions are undertaken because, in those parts of the world where very few insects have been collected, a region’s fauna is so poorly known that an expedition is needed to uncover what might be there. An important spin-off of these expeditions is the vast quantity of non-target insects that are captured during the sampling events. Beyond that, direct observations of stiletto flies in natural habitats greatly increases our knowledge of their behavior and of the ecological relationships they have with their surroundings.