Feb 11 2020

Gnat’s a First for Arkaig!

An insect survey at the Trust’s Loch Arkaig Pine Forest has recorded two species of fungus gnat previously unseen in Britain.

 

Fungus gnats are a large group of tiny flies whose larvae feed on mushrooms and fungi.

 

Boletina gusakovae is more usually found in Finland and Russia, and Mycetophila idonea in Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Georgia and Luxembourg.

 

 

The insects were captured in 2018 using Malaise traps – which look a little like a backpacker’s tent, and funnel flying insects into a collection jar. Two traps were in place over four months.  It is a massive task to separate all the individual insects caught.

 

 

In fact the contractor is still working his way through the samples while taking advice from a dozen different experts to help with identifications.

The new-to-Britain flies were represented by just one male of each species, out of over 1500 fungus gnats in turn separated out from tens of thousands of other insects in the Arkaig samples.

Some 20,000 specimens have been looked at so far. It could be several years before all are identified. Some will be held at the National Museum of Scotland until someone with the expertise to identify them can be found.

 

 

 

Meanwhile though, the two new-to-Britain gnats will be featured in the next Fungus Gnats Newsletter.

Everyone we have told is greatly cheered that there is such a publication!

 

George Anderson

PR and Communications Officer

Woodland Trust Scotland

2 Comments
  • David Rickwood

    Steve I hope all is well up in the far north, clearly, nats are the thing….we just had our invertebrate report back for Ausewell, and although we dont have any UK Firsts…. there a few interesting ones…..if you want a copy of the report drop me an email…Best Wishes …..Dave

    A total of 545 species of invertebrate were identified from the sampling programme during 2019. Diptera (two-winged flies) were much the most species-rich of the groups with 304 species found, with Coleoptera (beetles) the second most diverse group with 123 species.
     44 of these species have conservation status, including one s41 species (pearl-bordered fritillary), one Red List Vulnerable (a fungus gnat), two Near Threatened (a fungus gnat and a dance fly), one Nationally Rare (a false click beetle) and 39 Nationally Scarce species.
     A total of 170 species of fungus gnat – about one third of the British fauna – is exceptional from a single field season of sampling.

    February 11, 2020 at 8:13 pm
    • Matilda Scharsach

      Hey David that’s a spectacular list of species from a beautiful site. Pearl-bordered fritillaries are one of my favourites and I’m a sucker for beetles! I’ve been to Ausewell once and was blown away by how amazing it is. I’ll pass your comment above onto Steve and the Arkaig team.
      In the meantime, have you written something for Whittle about your Ausewell invert report?
      Best wishes,
      Matilda
      (Scotland Volunteering Development Officer)

      February 19, 2020 at 1:51 pm

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