As part of a biodiversity study, scientists discovered 30 never-before-seen species of flies living in Los Angeles.
The flies all belong to the phorid familiy and they were collected in 30 insect traps set up in the backyards of homeowners. All 30 species were discovered due to a collaboration between the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles and citizens called BioScan, the Los Angeles Times reported.
This 3-year study of insect diversity recruited homeowners to place insect traps in their backyards in 2014. Volunteers were required to change out the collection tubes each week and hand over insects collected to a museum representative every few weeks.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Emily Hartop” author_title=”Lead study author”]
Everyone expects for there to be a lot of biodiversity in the tropics. When you find new species in the city, that is surprising. Finding dozens of new species in a city, that is quite startling.
Phorid flies are slightly smaller than fruit flies. Some prey on insect pests, some eat decaying matter and some eat fungi. There is even a species called the coffin fly, which burrows through the ground to lay eggs in a corpse.
The species were described by Emily Hartop, the assistant collections manager of entomology of the museum, in a paper that will be published in Zootaxa next month. Hartop examined over 35,000 phorid flies under a microscope for a year to determine their species. Much of the identification work involved examining the flies’ genitalia, the easiest way to tell the various species apart.
The BioScan project collected much more than phorids, and other researchers are looking at other species in the city. Researchers also look at more than urban biodiversity. Last year, a study discovered that 54 cities are home to about 20% of the bird species in the world, while a team of scientists found that the city of Lyon, France is home to more than 30% of the country’s bee species, NBC News reported.