First fossil botfly discovery

Mesembrinella caenozoica sp. nov. Credit: Cerretti et al (2017)

From ScienceDaily:

New fly fossil sheds light on the explosive radiation of flies during the Cenozoic Era

The Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event is linked to this fly diversification

August 23, 2017

The first unambiguous fossil from the botfly family adds to the few known fossils of a major clade of flies (Calyptratae), shedding light on their rapid radiation during the Cenozoic Era, according to a study published August 23, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Pierfilippo Cerrito from Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy, and colleagues.

The bot fly family (Oestroidea) is the most diverse group of calyptrate flies, which is a clade of some 22,000 living species that comprise about 14% all flies. Calyptrates arose during the Cenozoic, in what was the most rampant radiation of flies ever and among the largest radiations of insects during this era. The clade includes some of the most diverse and ecologically important families of flies: tsetse, louse, and bat flies; house flies and relatives; and blow flies, bot flies, flesh flies, and relatives. Abundant in most terrestrial ecosystems, calyptrates often play key roles as decomposers, parasites, parasitoids, vectors of pathogen vectors, and pollinators. However, there are few reliable calyptrate fossils.

Cerretti and colleagues describe the first unambiguous oestroid fossil: a new species of fly (Mesembrinella caenozoica) discovered in amber from the Dominican Republic. The researchers also used the few known calyptrate fossils as calibration points for a molecular phylogeny to estimate the timing of major radiations in this clade.

The researchers estimate that the most recent common ancestor of today’s calyptrate flies lived about 70 million years ago — that is, just before the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary; that the radiation of oestroids began about 50 million years ago; and that the family M. caenozoica belongs to (Mesembrinellidae) originated about 40 million years ago. Importantly, the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event played a role in major radiations of birds, mammals and angiosperms — and this work suggests that it may also have been crucial to boosting calyptrate diversification during the Cenozoic.

See also here.


Wasp nesting in wood, video

This 10 August 2017 video is about a female Ectemnius wasp bringing flies as food to her youngsters in her nest in a sawed off lilac branch.

Jan de Bont in the Netherlands made this video.

Damselflies’ mating season

This 21 July 2017 video is about two white-legged damselfly ‘love tandems’. While the males fight, the females quietly deposit their eggs.

Behind them, a third white-legged damselfly tandem couple.

Tineke Cramer made this video near Wamberg village in North Brabant province in the Netherlands.

Beautiful wasp on video

This 18 July 2017 video shows a beautiful wasp, probably Hedychrum nobile, on great masterwort flowers.

Meeke de Beer made this video in her garden in the Netherlands.

Antlion in Namibia, video

This video, recorded in Namibia, says about itself:

Antlion Cone Death Trap – The Hunt – BBC Earth

19 July 2017

In the Namib desert where the sands can reach a scorching 70 degrees centigrade, very little is able to survive, but the Hotrod Ant can amazingly thrive and even forage for food. In this tense encounter an unsuspecting Hotrod Ant has strayed in antlion territory and faces the ultimate test of survival.

Rare wasp colony, video

This video is about a colony of Polistes biglumis wasps, a rare species in the Netherlands.

Ton Vranken made this video near Susteren town in Limburg province. It goes from the queen building the nest in May 2016 till September 2016, when the last wasps left the colony.

American crane flies mating, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

10 June 2017

Huge Mosquitoes – no these are harmless Crane Flies, very large and look like mosquitoes, but are not! Sometimes called Mosquito Hawks or Skeeter Eaters as they are rumored to eat mosquitoes, but they don’t consume mosquitoes at all, in fact they pretty much don’t eat anything during their short lives, their main goal is to mate as we see here – and it is a slow process. It does get a little exciting at a few points along the way. Filmed near the Great Smoky Mountains; these unusually large members of the Crane Fly family are of more than 500 varieties in these parts.