Gnat’s a First for Arkaig!
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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!
PR and Communications Officer
Woodland Trust Scotland