Time’s fun when you’re having flies

Lord of the flies: Prof Ante Vujić looking at a fly.

Recently, entomologists, biologists and geneticists from the European Union’s project FlyHigh returned to Mountainlands Nature Reserve to look for bee-like hoverflies from the genus Merodon.
These flies play an important role in the pollination of Merwilla plumbea, a Near Threatened bulbous plant species that occurs from Kwazulu-Natal to Mpumalanga. Only 15 species of this hover-fly genus have been described for South Africa compared to 160 in the Mediterranean region. Records for Central Africa are extremely poor and it is this disjointed distribution as well as the diversity and ecology of this insect genus in South Africa that the scientists are interested in. “We are also searching for some missing links – species which connect the Mediterranean and South African species to understand the evolution and origin of the genus,” said Prof Ante Vujić from the University of Novi Sad, Serbia.
One of the missing link flies, Merodon multifasciatus, was found in the vicinity of the Fortuna trail in Barberton on 8 April 1985. But the fly in the ointment was trying to catch one again. For about 8 years now teams from FlyHigh have been visiting the Barberton area with this aim in mind and this year it seems their perseverance has paid off. We have it on good authority that they may have caught one and are looking forward to receiving a copy of their research results in this regard.

A vial with flies caught on Mountainlands.

Merwilla plumbea.

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