Wiedemann Prefaces

Translated by Adrian C. Pont, November 1992

On some new genera of the Diptera

"Über einige neue Fliegen-Gattungen", 1817, Zoologisches Magazin (Kiel) 1 (1): 57-61

The more the realm of natural history increases in extent and the greater the numbers of creatures that are discovered, the more necessary it becomes to define the genera rigorously in order to survey them more easily. If this can be done using easily recognisable characters, then it becomes all the more essential to do so. In those insects where the wing-venation is clearly visible, this often gives the most reliable pointer to a generic difference at first glance. But if not all genera are characterised by differences in their venation then, conversely, it will never be wrong to conclude that the genus is distinct if there is any significant difference in the course of the wing-venation; and if all the other organs are compared and adequate differences are also found there to support the separation of a genus, then one can consider oneself fully justified. If Fabricius had paid attention to the course of the wing-venation, especially in the Diptera, he could have avoided many obvious errors. But he cannot be blamed for not doing so before the appearance of Meigen's work! His classification based on the mouth-parts had actually proved far too useful for him not to have preferred his system and to have neglected the wing-venation. But he can indeed be reproached for not doing so after the appearance of Meigen's work; for the advantages of using the venation were then only too obvious. And even if he did not wish to use the wing-venation as a generic character, he should have felt it to have been important enough to stimulate him to a more precise investigation of the characters that he did consider to be more important or which he preferred to use. Instead of deriving any benefit from studying a character, one can actually lose all sense of its significance. To a certain extent this may be what happened with Fabricius, who often mentions spots on the wing in his species-diagnoses which are nothing more than the small connecting- or cross-veins. I am including three examples here that illustrate the value of studying the wing-venation.

New flies (Diptera Linn.) from the district around Kiel

"Neue Zweiflügler (Diptera Linn.) aus der Gegend um Kiel", 1817, Zoologisches Magazin (Kiel) 1 (1): 61-86

I have often thought that it would be better to call a halt once and for all to the discovery and description of new species of animals and to direct all that time and effort to observing the properties, life-histories and relationships of the many thousands that are already known. In the most recent past there has been a tremendous increase in the number of genera and species, in new divisions, arrangements, and systems; but so little has been written on their economy, utility and harm, and in their relationships to each other and to the whole: Bonnet, De Geer, Réaumur and Huber have had no successors, but there is nothing more engaging and informative than their observations. Admittedly a lot more time, patience, attention and opportunity are needed to make such observations than to describe the new genera and species that are now reaching us from many distant parts of the world, that attract us by their novelty and striking structure or colour, and that can easily be distinguished from those that are already known. All too often and from familiarity we overlook what is in our immediate vicinity, and so many genera and species remain unstudied although we should find them the most attractive because there is a real hope of learning something more about them other than their colour and form.

Another requirement that is just as urgent as the description of new species is the correct separation and characterisation of the species dealt with by Fabricius. The descriptions, or rather the species-diagnoses, which that immortal man has given in his Systema Antliatorum (Brunsvigae, 1805) are often completely inadequate without reference to the fourth volume of the Entomologia Systematica emendata and to the Supplementum Ent. Syst. And not infrequently one is still in the dark even after consulting these two latter works as well.

Unarguably the most reliable information is provided by Fabricius' own collection of insects and by the collections of other entomologists that he worked on. The Fabricius collection is now the property of the Academy here in Kiel and has been entrusted to my care, and it will be my pleasant duty to give every scientific entomologist all the information that he requires about doubtful species. It was inevitable that further new species would come to light once careful comparisons were made, and so it has come about that in spite of the opinions with which I began this preamble I myself am now describing new species from the Kiel district. I felt reluctant to refrain from describing them, because many collectors wish simply for a complete enumeration of their species and because a more accurate identification may be possible here and there among the known and described species. It may happen to many a collector, as happened to Fabricius himself, that he will have an accurately identified and studied species in his collection to which he adds further material which, when studied in more detail, proves to be distinct and may either belong to a species that is already represented there or may prove to be another previously overlooked species. When I began to compare Fabricius' specimens with others, it happened not infrequently that these comparisons gave results that did not conform with the species-diagnoses in Fabricius' writings. Since then I have become a little more experienced, and make my comparisons only with the specimen that is labelled in Fabricius' own hand-writing, for adjacent specimens which he later incorporated often without a more careful comparison, from memory or after just a cursory examination, do not always belong to the same species. I am not mentioning this in order to belittle that immortal man, compared with whose achievement my own work in this field casts no more than a faint glow. Such oversights hardly dishonour someone who worked on a science in its entirety and who tried to bring order to such a vast chaos, as Fabricius did. I mention them only to explain or to excuse how I have come to propose these new species. And I would be the first to withdraw them if a more careful observer were to find that one or other of them was already represented in the series of the species described by Fabricius, though I doubt that this will be the case.

The species listed with an asterisk in Fabricius' more recent works are present in his collection, with just a few exceptions that he may have forgotten to include or that may have been destroyed with the passage of time, and the species described here are certainly not represented in that material, for I have compared it carefully with my own new species.

If I have sufficient time and leisure left after my other official duties, I could work on a fauna of our district, which in many ways would be a very attractive prospect. But many years would be required for such a work, and for the present I content myself with publishing individual contributions.

Note: Only after I had compared these species with the extensive Hoffmannsegg collection in Berlin did I give names to the species not represented there; I did not learn of the few Fallén synonyms until later.

The term "mesonotum" ["Rückenschild"] is used here for the "thorax" of Fabricius.

From Pallas' dipterological estate

"Aus Pallas dipterologischem Nachlasse", 1818, Zoologisches Magazin (Kiel) 1 (2): 1-39

During the summer of 1817, whilst I was in Berlin studying the collection of Count Hoffmannsegg in connection with Meigen's work on the Diptera, I made the interesting acquaintance of that extremely perceptive entomologist J. F. Schüppel who has already impressed the entomological public most favourably with his excellent illustrations for Klug's monograph of the genus Sirex. I expressed my admiration to Mr Schüppel for his drawings of beetles, which were really outstanding and beyond praise, and which he was preparing with incomparable finesse and beauty from the entomological estate of the celebrated Professor Pallas. I also admired the industry which that indefatigable scientist had bestowed upon the collection and preservation of the tiniest species of beetles from his country. The charming modesty with which Mr Schüppel accomplishes all this (he was previously a bookseller), and the most engaging unselfishness with which he delights every scientific entomologist, would oblige the writer to offer him tokens of his gratitude in public if Mr Schüppel's own modesty did not compel him to keep silent. To be brief, Mr Schüppel gave the writer all the Diptera that could be found among Pallas' riches, to use for his scientific work.

This gift consisted firstly of a number of insects belonging to the Diptera, and secondly of the manuscripts which the late naturalist left on this order. Whilst it is unfortunate that there is much in both categories that is unusable, there is also much that is extremely valuable and we hasten to make an announcement and presentation about the whole of this material.

The Latin manuscript consists of some 25 sheets, eight of which contain preliminary drafts, whilst the rest were written later and are evidently ready for publication. Nevertheless, we would not be doing the public any great service if we were to allow this script to be published either in its original language or in translation. In the first place, there is understandably much in it that is already adequately known. In the second place, several species are assigned to genera to which they no longer belong according to present knowledge; but they are not sufficiently well characterised for one to determine to which genus they correctly belong. It is greatly to be regretted that the surviving remnants of the collection are not of the same standard as the manuscripts. Many species have been lost or, as may be the case with the smaller species in particular, they were not preserved by the late Professor Pallas but were actually described on the spot from living specimens. It is inevitable that many species will remain doubtful forever, and as there is already no shortage of unrecognised names in entomology we believe that we have done right by only publishing what is unclouded by any doubts or obscurities.

The genera revised by Pallas are as follows: Hippobosca, Tabanus, Oestrus, Conops, Asilus, Bombylius, Volucella (but neither in the original sense of Geoffroy nor in the sense of Fabricius, but of Nemestrina Latr.), Nemotelus (in the sense of De Geer, therefore Anthrax of recent authors), Bibio (in the sense of Geoffroy), Tipula, Culex, Empis.

We shall make a start with those genera and species where specimens still survive.

New insects from the Cape of Good Hope

"Neue Insecten vom Vorgebirge der Guten Hoffnung", 1818, Zoologisches Magazin (Kiel) 1 (2): 40-48

Impelled by his love of observing nature and kindness towards his friends, Pastor Hesse has already made many fine and welcome donations from Africa to the German museums. Upon his return to the fatherland he has also given the author - bound to him in friendship since youth - a beautiful collection of insects of all orders which contains much that is new and which we propose gradually to describe here.

Descriptions of new Diptera from the East Indies and Africa

"Beschreibung neuer Zweiflügler aus Ostindien und Afrika", 1819, Zoologisches Magazin (Kiel) 1 (3): 1-39

It is not often that travellers who spend only a short time in individual districts in the warm areas of the world are able to form significant collections of insects. This is usually because they have to try to combine several different objectives and therefore collect only the most striking and the most common forms. But it is also because the insect fauna changes almost from month to month in warm regions, in a direct relationship with the flora, which consists of the most diverse plants, flourishing there in luxurious succession, flowering and then dying with such rapidity. Only someone who spends years in the same country and has the desire and opportunity to collect in every month will be able to form an extensive collection which can astonish us by its diversity. But it happens all too seldom that men who spend long periods in foreign parts for reasons of business take any joy or pleasure in natural history or devote their leisure hours to the collection of natural objects. If it does ever happen, however, then the result is an extensive collection. And so it has been with Mr B. W. Westermann, a merchant by profession and an enthusiastic collector in his leisure hours, who has formed a magnificent collection of insects in Asia and Africa that is full of new and beautiful species of many orders. We are indebted to a kind and generous gift from this enthusiastic collector for 68 species of Diptera as duplicates from his collection: of these only 18 were found to have been described by Fabricius and we have already described 6 in this journal (Zool. Mag. 1, 40 etc), so that 44 species were new and are described here. As the specimens are all well preserved and are almost all in perfect condition, the descriptions can be all the more accurate. It is impossible to make an accurate or satisfactory identification from neglected, dusty, mouldy, damaged specimens, sometimes impaled on pins that are as thick as the insect body itself, which is all too often how specimens reach us from all quarters of the globe. A certain degree of external elegance in insect collections is very desirable, as a neglected exterior will otherwise give rise to a damaged and useless interior.

Brazilian Diptera

"Brasilianische Zweiflügler", 1819, Zoologisches Magazin (Kiel) 1 (3): 40-56

The editor has begun a revision of the exotic Diptera along the lines adopted by Meigen in his Systematische Beschreibung der bekannten europäischen zweiflügeligen Insekten, of which the first volume (Aachen, 1818) is already in the hands of all devotees of entomology, and so it will be readily appreciated that he is very keen to get together all the species that are still undescribed from every part of the world. Many friends have supported him in a most generous manner, as is demonstrated by the second part of this journal as well as the present and preceding papers in the third part. For almost all the Diptera described in the present paper we are indebted to Wilhelm von Winthem of Hamburg, a young man who is collecting native and exotic insects with unusual enthusiasm and who has already made many welcome discoveries. We should also like to request other entomologists, both near and far, to send us those species of Diptera from overseas which are not included in Fabricius, if only for a short time so that we can compare them with our own resources and, if necessary, describe them. We shall also be willing to take the trouble to study those species which are unknown to their owners and which cannot be identified with certainty from Fabricius' unsatisfactory descriptions, and to return them to their owners in good order once the identification is assured. No one should take offence at the fact that provisional descriptions of new species are given here, because on the one hand the publication of the exotic Diptera should not be over-hasty, whilst on the other hand the multiplication of names for one and the same species should be curbed as far as possible. This can best be avoided by publication of the names and the accurate description of the named species.

Non-European Two-Winged Insects

"Aussereuropäische zweiflügelige Insekten. Als Fortsetzung des Meigenschen Werkes." Volume 1, 1828, Schulz, Hamm, xxxii + 608 pp., 7 plates

Since 1820, when I began to publish the Diptera exotica, I have made every effort to make improvements and to obtain additional material. If anyone wishes to compare the present German work with that earlier Latin one, he will soon see the extent to which I have succeeded in these two aspects. By way of illustration I will quote a few figures. In the genus Culex the earlier work contained 8 species while the present one deals with 20; in Chironomus there were previously 2 species, but there are now 8; in Tanypus 0, but now 4; in Limnobia 8, now 24; in Tipula 9, now 22; in Pangonia 13, now 29; in Acanthomera 1, now 4; in Tabanus 59, now 125; in Chrysops 12, now 26; in Leptis 1, now 16; in Midas 5, now 10; in Anthrax 53, now 95; in Dasypogon 35, now 78; in Asilus 52, now 14;
in Laphria 19, now 59.

Non-European species have now also been described in several interesting genera. This fact, together with the figures enumerated above, would have been sufficient grounds for a new edition. The easiest course for me would have been to have prepared a supplementary volume, but my publisher wished to promote my work as an extension of the invaluable volumes by Meigen so that the two works would together provide as complete an overview as possible of the known native and foreign Diptera. Consequently I decided on a German edition, although unwillingly, and then had to translate the greater part of the additional manuscript sections back into German, which has at least doubled the labour involved.

In this undertaking to provide a new revision of the exotic Diptera, I have been supported in the most generous manner by a number of sources, and I must mention here with gratitude that I have received here in Kiel all the Diptera that I needed to study personally from the magnificent Museum at Leiden, from the Berlin Museum, from the Copenhagen Royal Museum, from the Frankfurt Museum (Senckenberg Foundation), and even from the public Museum in Philadelphia. I have also received for study from the Imperial Museum in Vienna all the exotic Diptera which were available but were still undetermined prior to the Brazilian expedition. It is unfortunate that none of the Diptera in the Vienna and Leiden Museums had any indication of their countries of origin. So far as the Brazilian Diptera in the Imperial Museum at Vienna are concerned, my friend Megerle von Mühlfeld, who gave the late Professor Fabricius such lavish support and who was also prepared to do the same for me (see the Preface and text of Meigen's work), informed me with sincere regret that the Emperor had given instructions that none of the insects collected in Brazil by Austrian naturalists at the Imperial expense were to be relinquished. Now the Emperor would hardly have thought of such a thing himself. I accordingly addressed a request to the Emperor in person, asking for permission to receive and to make a scientific study of the Diptera that had been brought back from Brazil, all of which I intended to return in good condition; but this was met with a refusal. May God forgive those who gave such advice! My sole concern was for the science. I can do no more than wish that the future describers of these flies in Vienna will recognise the species from my descriptions and will avoid creating synonyms. I have also not been sent anything for study from Munich. Now, God-be-praised, I have received so many Brazilian Diptera for study and for comparison, partly for my own collection and partly from other collections, that I can confidently leave the satisfaction of describing some additional species at some future date to those misers with their hoards. The collections in London and Paris must contain many new forms from many parts of the world that could have been included in this work; however, my circumstances no longer allow me to repeat the journeys which I previously made with other ends in view.

I take this opportunity of making the following statement about my own work. In the first place it was my purpose to see all of Fabricius' species, so far as possible, and the best means for this was provided by his own collection, which now belongs to the University of Kiel thanks to the benevolence of our monarch, and by the classic and extremely extensive Lund-Sehestedt collection, now forming the Royal Collection in Copenhagen, from which Fabricius described so many species. Without seeing these for myself, it would have been quite impossible to recognise or to identify many of the species from Fabricius' descriptions alone, which are often inadequate or at times even downright inaccurate. Moreover, Fabricius placed many of his species in quite incorrect genera, examples of which are given in abundance in Meigen's work and in the present continuation. This may seem inexplicable to many people, but can be readily understood once one realises that Fabricius was often not able to re-examine many of the species described in his earlier works and could only assign them to the genera subsequently erected by himself, or to those described by others and accepted by him, by a combination of memory and guesswork. Other species in his own collection were perhaps defective in those structures which best characterise the genera to which they belong, for example the antennae. As Fabricius paid no attention to the course of the wing-veins, he was not able to use them to set himself on the right course, and as the mouth-parts or feeding-organs are not or hardly visible in preserved Diptera once they have dried, and do not even project in living flies when at rest, it is understandable that he was often simply groping in the dark and had to assign the species at random, wherever they would appear to fit best. Now and again errors seem to have been caused by an apparent lack of care, but sometimes the deterioration of his eyesight in old age must have been responsible for this.

In the first volume of the Diptera exotica (Kiel, 1821), I gave a long list of errors. An improved and enlarged version is again included here, because it makes recognition of many of the native and exotic species much easier.

As Fabricius did not accept Meigen's two genera Limnobia and Erioptera, although at least the former can also be easily distinguished from Tipula by the last segment of the palpi, which always project well forward, I shall pass over these genera with only the comment that Ctenophora quadrimaculata belongs to the genus Limnobia and should therefore have been placed by Fabricius in Tipula.

Culex morio belongs to Meigen's genus Ceratopogon. However, as Fabricius did not recognise this genus, to which Chironomus femoratus and communis also belong, he was compelled to assign his Culex morio to Chironomus.

The following new assignments should be noted:

  • Chironomus pallipes belongs to the genus Sciara (Molobrus Latr.)
  • Chironomus sericeus belongs to Atractocera Meig., Simulia Latr. As Scatopse reptans Fabr. also belongs to the genus Simulia, one would at least have expected that Chir. sericeus would have been included in Scatopse; furthermore, Scatopse albipennis certainly appears to be generically distinct from Sc. reptans.
  • Chironomus pennicornis Fabr. belongs to Cecidomyia Meig., and in any case is very different from Chironomus in its antennae, mouth-parts, and entire behaviour. But:
  • Chironomus dubius Fabr. does not belong to the Antliata at all, but rather to the order Rhynchota and to the genus Dorthesia Latr.
  • Hirtea chrysanthemi Fabr. belongs to my genus Xestomyza.
  • Hirtea forcipata F. belongs to the Dolichopus group.
  • Sciara lineata F. belongs to Ceroplatus F. (Platyura laticornis Meig.).
  • Sciara nigricornis belongs to Platyura Meig.
  • Sciara fuscata, S. punctata and S. cincta F. belong to Rhyphus Latr.
  • Apart from Sciara striata and S. lunata, which Fabricius himself recognised as belonging to Meigen's Mycetophila, Sciara bimaculata also belongs to that genus.
  • Sciara longicornis F. is a Macrocera.
  • Bibio aenea F. is vastly different from the Fabrician genus Bibio (Thereva Latr. Meig.) and belongs to Callicera Meig.
  • Bibio marginata F. belongs to Atherix Meig.
  • Bibio florea F. belongs to Trineura Meig.
  • Leptis ibis F. belongs to Atherix. Fabricius accepted Meigen's genus Atherix, but all the species that he assigned there actually belong to Leptis except for nebulosa and immaculata.
  • Nemotelus pusillus belongs to Stratiomys F.
  • Haematopota curvipes, H. lunata and Chrysops ferrugatus belong to Tabanus.
  • Cytherea fusca F. belongs to Anthrax.
  • Anthrax holosericea belongs to Cytherea F. (Mulio Latr.).
  • Anthrax titanus belongs to Atherix.
  • Bombylius griseus belongs to Ploas F.
  • Empis minuta belongs to Trineura Meig.
  • Tachydromia fuscipes and T. plumbea belong to Empis.
  • Damalis curvipes and D. quadricinctus belong to Hybos.
  • Dioctria sabauda, D. haemorrhoidalis, D. oculata and D. minuta belong to Dasypogon.
  • Dioctria morio, D. stigmatizans and D. crassipes belong to Laphria.
  • Dioctria muscaria belongs to Hybos.
  • Asilus ruficornis and A. capensis belong to Dasypogon.
  • Laphria calida and L. fasciata belong to Asilus.
  • Laphria reticulata, L. ruficauda and L. caiennensis belong to Dasypogon.
  • Laphria thoracica belongs to Hirtea Fabr. (Plecia mihi).
  • Dasypogon aestuans, D. forcipatus, D. nigritarsis, D. suillus, D. tibialis, D. germanicus, D. rufipes, D. barbatus, D. chinensis, D. flavescens, D. brunnipes, D. atripes, D. bifidus, D. stylatus, D. annulatus, D. caudatus, D. nigripes, D. annularis, D. cingulatus and D. striola all belong to Asilus F.
  • Dasypogon aurulentus F. forms my genus Ceraturgus on account of its very aberrant 5-segmented antennae. Fabricius says simply "antennae elongatae", but they are also characterised by the form of the segments.
  • Dasypogon tridentatus belongs to Laphria.
  • Dasypogon auratus and D. marginellus form the genus Ommatius Hoffmgg. because of the feathered antennal tip.
  • Dasypogon culiciformis belongs to Hybos.
  • Conops stylata belongs to Myopa.
  • The Fabrician genus Mulio is an amalgam of at least four genera. Mulio bicinctus and M. arcuatus belong to the genus Chrysotoxum Meig.; M. mutabilis, M. bidens and M. apiarius to Microdon Meig. (Aphritis Latr.); M. bicolor and M. serratus to Paragus Latr,; and M. virens to Pipiza Fall. Meig.
  • Milesia scutellaris and M. conica belong to Eristalis F.
  • Milesia vespiformis belongs to Mulio F. (Chrysotoxum Meig.).
  • Milesia means and M. conopsea belong to Scaeva Fabr. (Syrphus Meig.).
  • Milesia natans and M. eques belong to Merodon.
  • Merodon crassipes belongs to Eristalis.
  • Merodon femoratus together with Milesia sylvarum, M. segnis, M. volvulus, M. pigra, M. nemorum, M. vara and M. pipiens all belong to the genus Xylota Meig.
  • Baccha sphegea is vastly different from all the other Baccha species and belongs to Sepedon Latr.; and B. vesiculosa belongs to the genus Brachystoma Meig., which is in the Empis group.
  • Scatophaga cinerea belongs to Dolichopus Fabr. (Medeterus Meig.).
  • Scatophaga rufipes belongs to Sepedon Latr.
  • Scatophaga trimaculata and S. cornuta belong to Tephritis Fabr. (Trypeta Meig.).
  • Scatophaga flavipennis and S. holosericea belong to em>Lauxania.
  • The remaining Scathophaga belong for the most part to Tetanocera Latr., and the others such as S. urticae and S. crassipennis belong to Ortalis Fall.
  • Oscinis argus belongs to Tetanocera Latr.
  • Thereva dubia belongs to Milesia (Xylota Meig.). Who would have looked for it there?
  • Rhingia lineata and R. muscaria belong to Eristalis (Helophilus Meig.).
  • Syrphus bombyliformis belongs to Eristalis.
  • Oestrus buccatus and Musca americana belong to my genus Trypoderma, which is sufficiently different from Oestrus.
  • Eristalis cinereus, E. flavicans, E. ferrugineus, E. funestus and E. melancholicus belong to Merodon.
  • Eristalis berberinus belongs to Milesia; Eristalis narcissi is also a Milesia but is different from Réaumur's species.
  • Eristalis lucorum, E. laetus, E. aegrotus, E. auratus, E. nigrita and E. flavicornis belong to Scaeva Fabr. (Syrphus Meig.).
  • Eristalis ruficornis and E. semirufus belong to Milesia.
  • Eristalis rufipes belongs to Oscinis.
  • Eristalis subsultans does not belong to the Syrphus group but forms Fallén's genus Gymnopa.
  • Scaeva staminea belongs to Sargus, but the species Sargus aeneus, S. scutellatus and S. geniculatus do not belong to the genus Sargus at all. The first-named belongs to Mosillus Latr., the second to Chyliza Fall., and the third to Lauxania.
  • Calobata cylindrica, together with Tephritis putris, T. punctum, T. cynipsea and T. macula, belongs to the genus Sepsis Fall.
  • Calobata arrogans belongs to Tachydromia.
  • Calobata subsultans is vastly different from the other species, and belongs to Sphaerocera Latr. (Copromyza Fall.).
  • Nerius longipes belongs to the genus Calobata, as suggested by the author himself (but why only speculatively?).
  • Dolichopus glabratus belongs to Lauxania.
  • The genus Dacus is another genus that includes very heterogeneous species. True Dacus are most closely related to the genus Tephritis because of the projecting female ovipositor, the patterned wings, etc., but differ by having the apical antennal segment narrow and elongated, etc.
  • Dacus clavatus belongs to Musca.
  • Dacus costalis and D. obtusus belong to Ulidia Meig.
  • Dacus flavus, D. stylatus, D. ruficaudus, D. marmoreus and Dauci [sic] crux belong to Tephritis Fabr. (Trypeta Meig.) etc.
  • Stomoxys asiliformis belongs to Hybos.
  • Stomoxys dorsalis belongs to Myopa.
  • Stomoxys cristata and S. minuta belong to Siphona Meig. (Bucentes Latr.).
  • Stomoxys muscaria belongs to Musca Fabr. (Anthomyia Meig.).
  • Musca helluo belongs to Thereva Fabr. (Phasia Latr.).
  • Musca felina belongs to Tachina; the arista is not at all plumose.
  • Musca elata and M. gibba belong to Scathophaga Fabr.
  • Musca stigma and M. cellaris belong to Ulidia.
  • Musca frigida belongs to Sphaerocera Latr. or, better, forms a separate genus.
  • Musca unicolor belongs to Tephritis Fabr. The larva lives in the flowers of Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa).
  • The remaining species of Musca with non-plumose arista belong partly to Tachina, partly to Anthomyia, partly to Scatophaga Meig., etc.
  • Most of the species of Ocyptera Fabr. have to be transferred to other genera. The last three belong to Cordylura Fall. and Lissa Meig.; O. lateralis belongs to Tachina; O. simillima and O. ciliata belong to Phania Meig., to which Dictya pennipes, Thereva pennipes, T. lanipes, T. lipes, and most probably also Thereva hirtipes and T. plumipes also belong.
  • The genus Tephritis is composed of very diverse species. Very many of them lack the main character of the projecting ovipositor in the female. Tephr. combinata (illustrated as Tephr. maculata in Ahrens, 1817, Fauna, III, plate 22) differs in all its attributes, and belongs to Geomyza Fall.; T. flava and T. quadripunctata belong to Sapromyza Fall.; T. rosae belongs to Psila Meig.; T. mali, T. morio and T. syngenesiae belong to Ortalis Fall.; T. hieracii (illustrated as Scatophaga gemmata in Ahrens, 1817, Fauna, III, plate 21) belongs to Tetanocera Latr.; T. atrata belongs to Piophila Fall.; T. aterrima belongs to Trineura Meig.; T. grossificationis belongs to Tachina; T. manicata belongs to Ochthera Latr.; T. demandata belongs to Ulidia; T. minuta, T. argentea and T. strigula are also very different generically from Tephritis. Other species have already been discussed under the genus Calobata.
  • Dictya discoidea, D. cancellaria, D. atomaria, D. picta, D. ocellata and D. vittata belong to Tephritis Fabr.
  • Dictya dorsalis and D. gemmata belong to Tetanocera Latr.
  • Dictya lugens and D. moerens belong to Ortalis Fall.
  • Dictya aenea belongs to Musca Fabr. (Idia Meig.).
  • Dictya femorata and D. clavipes belong to Ropalomera.


Apart from these errors in the inclusion of many species in genera where they do not belong, and in the assignment to quite different genera of several species that correctly belong to the same genus, Fabricius has also made it difficult in many cases to identity his species by describing the same species under different names within the same genus or in two or even three different genera. The following list illustrates this; the names refer to one and the same species:

  • Chironomus littoralis and cantans.
  • Hirtea marci and brevicornis.
  • Hirtea pyri and praecox.
  • Hirtea collaris and Laphria thoracica (Plecia mihi).
  • Bibio plebeia and strigata.
  • Bibio anilis and annulata.
  • Leptis ibis and Anthrax titanus (Atherix Meig.).
  • Atherix atrata and aurata.
  • Empis clavipes and femorata.
  • Hybos funebris and Dasypogon culiciformis.
  • Sicus ferrugineus, bicolor and errans.
  • Stratiomys mutabilis and fasciata.
  • Stratiomys thoracica and strigata.
  • Tachydromia cimicoides and Calobata arrogans.
  • Tachydromia fuscipes and plumbea.
  • Pangonia maculata and variegata.
  • Tabanus italicus and vituli.
  • Tabanus paganus and macularis.
  • Chrysops coecutiens, lugubris and viduatus.
  • Volucella florea and atrata (Usia Latr.).
  • Dioctria muscaria and Stomoxys asiliformis (Hybos).
  • Laphria spinipes and affinis.
  • Myopa cinerea and tibialis.
  • Myopa tessellata and irrorata.
  • Mulio devius and apiarius.
  • Milesia dentipes and lineata.
  • Merodon melancholicus and natans.
  • Baccha sphegea and Scathophaga rufipes.
  • Milesia fallax and Eristalis semirufus.
  • Oscinis argus and Tephritis hieracii.
  • Rhingia lineata and muscaria.
  • Eristalis versicolor and frutetorum.
  • Eristalis intricarius and Syrphus bombyliformis.
  • Scaeva scripta and menthastri.
  • Sargus xanthopterus and auratus.
  • Sargus politus and cyaneus.
  • Calobata filiformis and corrigiolata.
  • Dacus clavatus and Musca funebris.
  • Dacus aculeatus and costalis.
  • Dacus hastatus and dauci.
  • Dacus marmoreus and Tephritis flavescens.
  • Dacus arcuatus and Tephritis arnicae.
  • Dacus obtusus and Musca stigma.
  • Stomoxys grisea and siberita.
  • Stomoxys cristata and minuta.
  • Musca vulpina and maculata.
  • Musca umbraculata and domestica autorum (corvina Fabr.).
  • Musca ludifica and domestica.
  • Musca roralis and Tephritis grossificationis.
  • Tachina tessellata and fera.
  • Tephritis mali and morio.
  • Tephritis lychnidis and Dictya discoidea.
  • Tephritis conica and Dictya picta.


So far as possible I have tried to avoid these and similar errors, and have also set to work with more care in describing the species, which Fabricius often described far too briefly or sometimes just by repeating the species diagnosis; and also in defining the colours, over which Fabricius was often so inconsistent. Fabricius knew only a relatively small number of Diptera species: in the Systema Antliatorum (Brunsvigae, 1805) he dealt with a total of 1147 species, of which only 474 were non- European, and 55 species need to be deducted from this total, as the list of species described more than once makes clear. How immense has been the increase in the number of known species in this order since then! And at the same time how greatly has the difficulty of encapsulating a precise and adequate characterisation of each species in words increased.

In the diagnosis for his species Culex cingulatus Fabricius writes: "Testaceus, haustello tarsisque posticis albo annulatis"; whilst his description states no more than this: "Statura et magnitudo omnino C. pipientis; Corpus totum testaceum, haustello tarsisque posticis albo annulatis." This quotation supports the charge levelled above. But see also the following species in Systema Antliatorum: Tipula longimana page 26, 11; Chironomus pubicornis 43, 23; Hirtea praecox 51, 3; Hermetia rufiventris 63, 2; Tabanus rufescens 100, 33; Chrysops ferrugatus 111, 2; Anthrax simson 119, 5; Anthrax pithecius 122, 14; Anthrax cephus 124, 25; Anthrax faunus 126, 38; Tachydromia bicolor 143, 2; Laphria rufibarbis 157, 4; Dasypogon (Laphria) tridentatus 167, 14; Dacus marmoreus 276, 18; Musca tessellata 285, 8; Musca luteola 286, 11; Musca lanio 287, 15; Musca helluo 295, 58; Musca quadrum 297, 67; Musca ruficeps 299, 77; Musca gibba 297, 70. I think that it will be quite clear that I have not been unjust.

The following examples will show that Fabricius has not been entirely accurate with his colours. Under Hirtea fulvicollis, the diagnosis states "alis fuscis", whilst the description states "alae obscurae nigrae". Under Hermetia rufiventris, the diagnosis
"abdomine rufo", and the description "abdomine toto ferrugineo"; "rubiginosa" would have been a better term. Under Anthrax aygulus, the diagnosis "ano niveo", and the description "ano pilis densis argenteis"; but
"snow-white" and "silver" are very different. Under Anthrax gorgon, the diagnosis "disco nigro-punctato", and the description "punctis disci fuscis". Under Anthrax
[Page xviii]
maimon, the diagnosis "alis fuscopunctatis", and the description "punctis nigris"; here it is even the reverse of what was previously said. Under Bombylius posticus, the diagnosis "alis basi nigris", and the description "basi fuscae". Under Empis lineata, the diagnosis "abdomine rufo", and the description "abdomen testaceum". Under Asilus capensis, the diagnosis "thorace obscure feruginea", and the description "thorax dorso obscure cinereo". Under Asilus hircus, the diagnosis "femoribus rufis", and the description "ferrugineis". Under Laphria saffranea, the diagnosis "abdomine ferrugineo", and the description "abdomen fulvum"; in fact none of these three terms fits because the colour is really orange-yellow. Under Laphria haemorrhoa, the diagnosis "ano rufo", and the description "ano sanguineo". Under Myopa tibialis, the diagnosis "femoribus basi ferrugineis", and the description "rufis". Under Milesia speciosa, the diagnosis "pedibus rufis", and the description "ferruginei". Under Scatophaga obliterata, the diagnosis "pedibus testaceis", and the description "pedes rufi". Under Scatophaga stictica, the diagnosis "capite rufo", and the description "caput ferrugineum". Under Scatophaga flavipennis, the diagnosis "tibiis testaceis", and the description "pedes ferruginei". Under Scatophaga trimaculata, the diagnosis "abdomine rufo", and the description "abdomine ferrugineum". Under Thereva hirtipes, Th. pilipes, Th. dubia and also Stomoxys minuta, the diagnosis "pedibus flavis", and the description "pedes pallide testacei". Under Musca pinguis, the diagnosis "abdom. segmentis basi cinereis", and the description "cingulis tribus albidis". Under Eristalis crassipes, the diagnosis "basi fulvis", and the description "ferrugineis".

In describing the wings, Fabricius uses "white" for "transparent", which is actually colourless. He makes no distinction between "ater" and "niger", and often uses "ater" when the colour is only blackish. He often uses "obscurus" and "pallidus" without defining the colour further, for example "pedibus pallidis" in Dolichopus platypterus; "thorax pallidus" in Chironomus tentans; "alae obscurae" in Tipula maculata and Stomoxys fascipennis. He describes the mesonotum as "obscurus" in Musca carnivora and M. gibba. He uses "rufus" for the rusty-yellow of Tabanus cinctus and for the golden-yellow ("fulvus") of Anthrax erythrocephala. Golden-yellow, on the other hand, for the "orichalceus" of Ocyptera simillima and Thereva pilipes; for the rusty-reddish ("rubiginosus") of Tipula erythrocephala, and for the saffron-yellow of Tipula elegans. "Canus" (grey) for the ochraceous-yellow ("silaceus"),
which is a very light yellow, if his Musca americana. Elsewhere, in his Philosophia entomologica (1778), he writes disapprovingly of the expression "canus", "because grey hair covers an infinite number of shades", but it never has such a yellow tinge. However, it is in his use of the terms "testaceus" and "cinereus" that he is least accurate; for if one wanted to believe that he included "brick-red" in his "testaceus", as is now accepted usage, his use of the term is far too inconsistent, and this is probably why Meigen translated it as "mussel-brown" in his earlier 8vo work (1804). However, Fabricius uses "testaceus" for the light rusty-yellow of Musca pallida (Syst. Antl. 295, 3); for the ochraceous-brown ("ochraceus") of Scatophaga scropharia (204, 4); for the acorn-brown of Scatoph. porcaria (204, 3); for the honey-yellow of Musca pagana (288, 23), etc. He uses ash-grey ("cinereus") for the grey of Stomoxys grisea (281, 10), of Musca maculata (287, 14), of Musca striata (288, 20), etc; for the yellowish-grey ("griseus") of Stomoxys cristata (281, 9), of Stomoxys minuta (282, 17), and of Musca tigrina (297, 66). Fabricius usually writes "cyaneus nitidus" for "chalybeus", as for Musca bicolor (291, 86), Laphria labiata (160, 20), etc; however, "nitidus" simply means "shining" and does not carry any suggestion of a metallic shine.

Fabricius was also inaccurate in quoting other authors, especially Linnaeus, and his worst transgression was that he never gave his own description of species that he identified as those of Linnaeus, and sometimes even altered Linnaeus' species diagnosis. The following striking examples illustrate this:

Tipula rivosa (1805, Syst. Antl. 22, 1): "alis hyalinis: macula rivulisque niveis". In his earlier Entomol. systematica (1794, IV, 233, 2), he writes: "alis hyalinis: rivulis maculaque nivea", but nothing further because it is supposed to be a Linnaean species. Linnaeus,
however, wrote: "alis hyalinis: rivulis fuscis maculaque nivea". In order to clarify this point for myself, I consulted the Fabricius collection and found a completely different species labelled as rivosa in Fabricius' own hand, which is actually included by Meigen (1818, I, 183, 20) under
the name of varipennis. This must have been in the collection for some time, and the true rivosa Linn. lost, because it no longer agreed with Linnaeus' description and consequently Fabricius altered the species diagnosis. This now fails to agree with any species. However, Fabricius retained his citation of De Geer's illustration, though this is understandably very different from the species in Fabricius' collection since it actually shows the true Linnaean species.

It is difficult to believe that in Fabricius' collection and under his own hand-written label there is not even a specimen of the true common house-fly Musca domestica but rather a female of his Musca ludifica, and he has altered the Linnaean diagnosis, that is to say has falsified it, so that it will fit this specimen. Linnaeus writes (1758, 596, 54): "antennis plumatis pilosa nigra, thorace lineis 5 obsoletis, abdomine nitidula tessellato: minor." On the other hand, Fabricius (1805, 287, 18) writes: "antennis plumatis, thorace lineato, abdomine tessellato subtus basi pallido", but nothing further. However, the true Musca domestica is present in the Fabricius collection and in the Copenhagen Museum under the name M. corvina, and the species that follows this in the Syst. Antl., M. umbraculata, is also nothing more than the common house-fly (M. domestica) in which pressure on the head has produced an accidental projection from the frons.

Under his Tephritis flava, which is very common here in Holstein and belongs to Sapromyza Fallén, Fabricius writes nothing more than: "flava, antennis apice puncto nigro", and adds to this three incorrect references. In fact neither Linnaeus nor De Geer mentions anything about a black tip to the antennae, although such careful observers would scarcely have overlooked this feature which is obvious enough even to the unaided eye; furthermore, they described the eyes as green and the abdomen as ovoid, and this indicates a smaller, equally common species which also belongs to Fallén's genus. The Geoffroy citation is referred equally incorrectly to T. flava Fabr., for it is actually Musca cardui Linn., which is illustrated in Ahrens (1814, Fauna, II, plate 25), under the incorrect name of Scatophaga flexuosa.

Tephritis parietina Fabr.: "alis fuscis albopunctatis maculatisque fronte testacea", and nothing further except for a quotation from Linnaeus which, however, does not actually refer to this species. T. parietina Fabr. is Musca leontodontis De Geer (1776, Mémoires, VI, Plate II, fig. 18), which Fabricius cites with a question mark under his Dacus umbellatarum, where it is just as incorrectly placed as is Linnaeus' Musca hyosciami which is another quite different species.

Syrphus mystaceus Fabr.: "tomentosus niger, thorace abdominisque apice flavis", and nothing else except for a reference to Linnaeus' Musca mystacea which, however, belongs to Eristalis apiarius Fabr.

In the case of several Linnaean species and of certain others, all these shortcomings make it very difficult to decide exactly which species he had in mind without personal sight of the material. As is well known, Linnaeus' collections are the property of the celebrated botanist Sir James Edward Smith in England. Some years ago, when searching for information for Meigen's work on European Diptera, I wrote to the proprietor, but he replied that he himself was not an entomologist and that as the collection was not with him in London he was unable to secure the advice of other entomologists to help with my request for information. Several species that Fabricius described from the celebrated Banks collection will also be difficult to recognise again, for that collection was incorporated into the British Museum and, according to reliable information, has been totally destroyed through neglect and poor treatment, at least as far as the entomological portion is concerned.

As regards his descriptions, I must also point out that Fabricius sometimes included characters that occur only in one sex. For example, he describes Musca dentipes as "femoribus anticis unidentatis", though females have the fore femur without teeth. Again, with Atherix oculata
("oculis maximis os fere obtegentibus") and Syrphus vesiculosus ("oculi omnino coeunt"), where both features apply only to males. Fabricius usually overlooked the first, generally very short, abdominal segment and so the careful observer will have to read "second" where he has written "first".

So that my readers will be aware of the points of reference followed in my own text, I am taking the liberty of pointing out that so far as terminology is concerned I have generally followed my friend and former
student J. K. W. Illiger (Versuch einer systematischen vollständigen Terminologie für das Thierreich und Pflanzenreich, Helmstädt, 1800). Only the following terms are different, or are mentioned because
they are not in common use.

  • Silaceus, a very light ochraceous-yellow [ockergelb].
  • Ochraceus, ochraceous-brown [ockerbraun].
  • Ferrugineus, rusty-yellow [rostgelb].
  • Ferruginosus, with more of a brownish tinge.
  • Rubigineus, rusty-red [rostroth].
  • Rubiginosus, rusty-reddish [roströthlich].
  • Calcotharinus, a very deep reddish-brown [röthlichbraun], like Calcothar vitrioli.
  • Gambogius, a strong reddish-yellow [röthliches gelb] or yellowish-red [gelbliches roth], like the outer surface of gamboge.
  • Croceus, saffron-yellow [safrangelb], not the reddish colour of dried saffron but of that drawn out with water.
  • Coccinelleus, the brownish-red [braunroth] of coarsely crushed cochineal.
  • Testaceus, brick-red [ziegelroth].
  • Coriaceus, leather-yellow [ledergelb], tinged with brown rather like smoothed calfskin.
  • Fulvus, golden-yellow [goldgelb], without any metallic shine and without any admixture of red or brown.
  • Auratus, golden [golden], golden-yellow with a metallic sheen.
  • Luteus, clay-yellow [lehmgelb], like pure loam earth.
  • Cervinus, fawn [rehbraun], the yellowish-brown colour at the middle of deer hair.
  • Badius, chestnut-brown [kastanienbraun], strongly tinged with red.
  • Brunneus, pure brown [reinbraun], the so-called sap-brown.
  • Fuscus, blackish-brown [schwärzlichbraun]; sometimes also brown in general, without any more precise definition.
  • Fuscanus, brownish [bräunlich], already with a considerable yellow tinge.
  • Scoriaceus, cinder-blue [schlackenblau], with a semi-metallic shine.
  • Piceus, pitch-brown [pechbraun], blackish-brown with some shine.
  • Griseus, yellowish-grey [gelblichgreis], the colour of unbleached linen.
  • Canus, grey [haargreis], pure black mixed predominantly with white.
  • Cinereus, ash-grey [ashgrau],like pure beech ash, that is to say grey that is tinged a little with reddish.
  • Helvius, chamois-leather yellow [gemsledergelb] (French: chamois), rather strongly reddish.
  • It should be noted that when the colour of a covering of hair is given the hairs are viewed from the side because the overall colour of an area covered with hairs is always modified by the dimly visible ground-colour of the surface on which the hairs are situated.
  • Sericans, with a silky lustre [seidenglänzend].
  • Hirtus, haired [behaart], a term I use for a less dense covering of short hairs.
  • Pilosus, hairy [haarig], a term I usually use when the hairs are longer.
  • Tomentum and tomentosus, downy [befilzt]; a covering of flattened and adpressed, almost scale-like elements, especially on the legs of the genera Anthrax, Bombylius, and others.
  • Humeri, shoulders [Schultern]; I use this term for the anterior corners of the mesonotum, which are almost always bulging and are often differently coloured.
  • Sutura, suture [Naht]; the transverse stripe (sunken line) running across the middle of the mesonotum.
  • Stethidium, thorax [Mittelleib]; includes the mesonotum, scutellum, pleura and sides.
  • Apex thoracis, tip of the mesonotum [Spitze des Rückenschildes], the most anterior part.
  • Abdomen, upper surface of the abdomen [Hinterleib].
  • Venter, venter [Bauch, literally: belly], lower surface of the abdomen.
  • Apex, tip [Spitze]; can be either the posterior end of the abdomen or the posterior sections of the individual segments.
  • Basis, base [Wurzel]; the posterior part of the thorax but the anterior part of the abdomen.
  • Incisurae abdominis, incisures [Einschnitte]; these are the extreme hind-margins of the individual segments, which are often differently coloured. When this different colouration occupies more space, then it becomes a band, fascia.
  • Fascia, band [Binde], a transverse band of a different colour from the ground-colour.
  • Vitta, stripe [Strieme], a broad longitudinal line of a different colour.
  • Vitta linearis, a very narrow stripe [schmale Strieme].
  • Linea, line [Linie]; when colours or patterns are being discussed and "line" is mentioned without further comment, then a very narrow or fine longitudinal stripe is meant. There are also transverse lines, but in such cases the word "transverse" is expressly mentioned.
  • Striga, stripe [Streif] or streak [Strich], a short and differently-coloured pattern of moderate width, directed obliquely or transversely.
  • Linea is otherwise a raised line, a ridge [Leiste], and stria is a sunken, line-like impression.
  • Collare, collar [Kragen]; one or several transverse rows of stiff hairs at the tip of the mesonotum, especially in Anthrax.
  • Pedes postici, hind legs [hinterste Beine].
  • Pedes posteriores, posterior legs [hintere Beine]; the middle and hind legs together.
  • Pedes antici, fore legs [vorderste Beine].
  • Pedes anteriores, anterior legs [vordere Beine]; the fore and middle legs together.
  • Onychii, pulvilli [Fussballen].
  • Lobulus antalaris, prealar triangle [Vorflügeldreieck]; an area on each side of the mesonotum in front of the wing-base, defined by sunken lines.
  • Costa, costa [Rippe]; the outer margin of the wing, or the first longitudinal wing-vein that forms the margin.
  • Furca apicalis, forked vein [Gabelader]; the two veins which terminate at the margin of the wing-tip and which coalesce at an angle somewhat higher towards their base.
  • Vena, vein [Ader]. If there is no further comment, then a longitudinal wing-vein is always meant.
  • Venae transversae or connectentes, cross-veins [Queradern]; short veins that are situated between certain longitudinal veins and which run absolutely transversely or even slightly obliquely.

For further discussion of the terminology, the reader should consult the introduction to the first volume (1818) of Meigen's work on European Diptera.

When I published the first volume of the Diptera Exotica, there were still 90 Fabrician species which I did not know; this figure has now decreased to 39. I am listing them here, and have indicated them in the text with a cross (like all the other species that I have not seen for myself). I very much desire to see these species, and would be greatly indebted to the generosity of any scientific investigator who could enable me to study one or other of these species.

  • Stratiomys pallipes from South America
  • Stratiomys analis from the islands of the Pacific Ocean
  • Tabanus calens Linn. from South America
  • Tabanus exaestuans Linn. from South America
  • Tabanus antarcticus Linn. from South America
  • Anthrax algira from Barbary
  • Anthrax fasciata from the islands of the Pacific Ocean
  • Anthrax satyrus from China
  • Anthrax sylvanus from New Holland
  • Bombylius aequalis from North America
  • Bombylius pygmaeus from North America
  • Bombylius capensis from the Cape
  • Dioctria cyanea from the Cape
  • Dioctria conopsoides from New Holland
  • Asilus grossus from South America
  • Asilus maurus Linn. from Africa
  • Dasypogon plumbeus from New Holland
  • Dasypogon striatus from Barbary
  • Myopa cincta from the East Indies
  • Mulio globosus from Carolina
  • Mulio aurulentus from Carolina
  • Milesia acuta from Carolina
  • Thereva hirtipes from Carolina
  • Thereva plumipes from Carolina
  • Eristalis pinguis from America
  • Eristalis segetum from Barbary
  • Eristalis posticatus from Carolina
  • Achias oculatus from Java
  • Dolichopus cristatus from Barbary
  • Dolichopus aeneus from Java
  • Stomoxys morio from Brazil
  • Stomoxys parasita from North America
  • Musca luteola from Guinea
  • Musca retusa from New Holland
  • Musca lepra Linn. from America
  • Tachina vivipara from the islands of the Pacific Ocean
  • Hippobosca australasiae from the islands of the Pacific Ocean

I have omitted from this work a number of North African species, some of which certainly occur in southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Sicily, etc) whilst others most probably do, since they have already been described by Meigen. For example, Tabanus maroccanus Fabr., which Meigen described in his first work of 1804, in fact a year earlier than Fabricius, and which he has now described again in his recent work (1820, Volume 2, 42, 17) from Portugal under the name T. taurinus. Also Tabaus macularis, T. vittatus; Haematopota variegata; Usia florea, U. atrata, U. aurata, U. versicolor (all Volucella Fabr.); Mulio obscurus, M. cinereus, M. aureus, M. holosericeus (all Cytherea and Anthrax Fabr.); Anthrax syphax, A. pandora, A. capucina; Bombylius punctatus, B. melanocephalus; Dasypogon atratus, D. striatus; Laphria maroccana, L. ruficauda; Merodon ferrugineus.
On the other hand, I have again dealt with Tabanus cinctus and T. mexicanus (ochroleucus Meigen, 1820, II, 62, 41) and Anthrax lucifer in the present work because they are undoubtedly American species and were incorrectly included by Meigen as European species.

The species are dealt with in order of size, so that the largest ones come first.

Under each species I have given the Museum where the material that I have described is located, so that the reader will know where he can see and compare it for himself. As regards the North American species, which Mr Thomas Say sent me for study with great willingness from the Museum of the Academy in Philadelphia, the journey may well be rather a long one because I had to return several of the species. Furthermore, I have to acknowledge with gratitude the kindness of Professor Klug in Berlin and of my very dear friends Westermann in Copenhagen and von Winthem in Hamburg, who with great unselfishness have sent me a great quantity of material that has embellished my work and enriched my collection. For the others who have assisted with this undertaking, I refer to my introduction in Volume 1 of Meigen's work (1818). I also express my best thanks to the directors of the Museums of Leiden and Frankfurt for material that they kindly sent.

In conclusion, it is my wish that this work, on which no effort or expense has been spared, will prove useful to naturalists. It cannot be free of errors, but I have consciously endeavoured to make it as flawless as possible.

Greater accuracy could have been attained in many of the descriptions if they had been made from specimens in a better state of preservation or if based on more than one or a few specimens, especially in those genera and species where the ornamentation is very fragile. This applies particularly to the genus Anthrax, where the white and silvery down ("tomentum") can be rubbed off so extraordinarily easily. By comparing the descriptions of several species in the Diptera Exotica of 1821 with those in the present German edition, the reader will soon see that I have been able to improve many descriptions from better specimens. There is no doubt that if several specimens can be compared together whilst being described, then their essential and constant features can be more securely grasped, and so it is all the more unfortunate that the describer is not always in this happy situation! Often one sex differs slightly from the other in colour, pattern and form, and so a description prepared only from one sex does not fit perfectly. Wherever it was possible and necessary, I have therefore added the signs of the planets Mars.

Kiel, February 1825C. R. W. Wiedemann


Non-European Two-Winged Insects, Volume 1

C. R. W. Wiedemann

The zoological riches from Egypt and Nubia sent back to the Frankfurt Museum by the enthusiastic Rüppell have also produced many Diptera, and these, together with a number of Brazilian Diptera, were kindly sent to me for description by Lieutenant von Heyden along with drawings of the venation of Limnobia and of the antennae of Polymera fusca and Megistocera. Furthermore, the ardour of my former student Dr Trentepohl has also enabled me to enlarge this appendix still further. During a journey to China on which he was first doctor on board a China clipper from Copenhagen and which he undertook purely out of love for science, he spared himself neither trouble nor danger to make use of the relatively few opportunities he had to collect what he could. The unfortunate disinclination of ships' masters to assist with scientific endeavours as a rule is only too well known. My friend Trentepohl nobly did what he had to. He leapt for the shore of Sumatra, towards which a boat had been despatched for some purpose or other, up to his waist in the sea, and waded ashore through the breakers so that he could spend at least a little time in collecting animals. Amongst many other species, he collected no less than 32 Diptera many of which are tiny and for this reason, ignored or despised by other collectors, have proved to be new. The collections around Canton and on Macao have been more extensive because the stay there was rather longer. This enthusiastic researcher and collector is now in Copenhagen where he is supported by our sovereign, who readily encourages every activity that is good and useful. He is devoting himself to acquiring a more comprehensive knowledge of the various branches of natural science, and will probably soon be spending a longer period on the coast of Guinea, from which extensive collections can be expected.


[Page 543, footnote]
All the species described in this appendix as Egyptian or Nubian were sent by Rüppell to the Frankfurt Museum.

Non-European Two-Winged Insects

Aussereuropäische zweiflügelige Insekten. Als Fortsetzung des Meigenschen Werkes.
Volume 2, 1830, Schulz, Hamm, xii + 684 pp., 5 plates

Not without a certain satisfaction at having completed a laborious task, but also not without some trepidation at having accomplished less than might justifiably have have been expected, I am delivering the second and final volume of my descriptions of exotic Diptera to the entomological public. Although conscious of my shortcomings I can take consolation from having acted with integrity and of having made sacrifices of various kinds in order to achieve all that was within my powers. However, this does not assist the reader if he finds that there is cause for dissatisfaction with my achievements. To satisfy everyone is not something that anyone can set out or expect to do, but there are certain aspects in which anyone can expect to be satisfied: and in the present work - or, rather, in the work that follows - the main emphasis is on intelligibility. But lack of understanding is not always the result of unintelligibility: he who has not learned to understand has no cause for complaint. In describing the natural world, we have now come to the point when a highly specialised vocabulary has to be used in order to characterise adequately all the various features of the products of nature, and this process can be relatively simple with certain characteristics but extremely difficult with others. The main objective of a natural history work such as mine can be just this: to enable the reader to recognise each genus and each species. So far as the recognition of the species is concerned, the use of colours has been indispensable so far, and for various reasons that is not a good thing: colours are not absolute and can only be described comparatively; colours occur in various shades, mixtures, transitions; and in many respects colours are subject to variation, as the same species of insect or of fly can occur in different colour forms, etc. Furthermore, it is rare for the terminology of colours to be used consistently by different describers except for the primary colours or for those that are absolutely constant such as sky-blue, cinnabar-red, snow-white, etc. Moreover, it is only in the most richly-endowed languages such as Latin or our own glorious German mother-tongue that there are special words for all the subtle variations in colour. The use of colour terms is also affected by whether the insect is studied and described when living, or at least whilst still soft and fresh, or not until it has dried out. It goes without saying that my own descriptions of exotic Diptera have all been prepared from dry specimens. Only in a very few species from Pennsylvania described by Thomas Say, which I have not seen personally and which are therefore marked in my text with a cross (+), does it appear to me that the descriptions were made from living specimens. Although in certain respects there is a great deal to be said for this, it is hardly likely to become general practice in the Diptera, because in many of them individual colours on individual parts of the body change greatly as they dry out, and the time is unlikely ever to come when there will be competent describers in every country in every part of the world.

This second part of my work has been much more difficult than the first, particularly on account of the large family Muscidae. To characterise just in words that endless array of tiny and in many respects so similar creatures in such a way that they can be unerringly recognised by other workers is certainly an unattainable goal. It is the more so as the species cannot all be studied together comparatively at the same time, and I have suffered as much from this shortcoming as has my dear friend Meigen in his work on the European Diptera. But he has the considerable advantage of being an excellent artist, and he has been able to illustrate accurately every species that has been sent to him even if it has only been sent for comparison. For my part, I am no longer able to consider making such comparisons because many species are no longer available to me now and my eyes have become so weak that the greatest forbearance is an essential duty if I am to preserve my sight. Someone else will follow me now, and if he is able to make a equally large contribution to the diffusion and completion of our knowledge of these creatures then we shall be getting much closer to the goal towards which we are striving. There must undoubtedly be many dipterological riches in London, Paris, Petersburg, etc, but the task of researching into them must be left to younger, more energetic and conscientious workers. When I began dipterological work twelve years ago with the first papers in my Zoologisches Magazin, I was much more audacious than I am now, and when I published a long list of the errors to be found in Fabricius' Systema Antliatorum in an academic programme of 1820, which subsequently appeared in the bookshops in 1821 under the title of Diptera exotica Pars 1 (with several further additions and 2 copper plates), I thought that I was superior to all this and had been called to be a reformer. Although since then I have found many other oversights in the great man's work, I have become more reticent in pointing them out because I can now see more clearly how easy it is to make mistakes, and I fear that I myself have made mistakes here and there though the old adage "to err is human" gives little consolation. I therefore ask for the reader's indulgence and for his kind suggestions for improvements.

So far as the genera are concerned, I have almost entirely followed Meigen, though I might have wished that he had described rather fewer in cases where the characters are not sufficiently clear-cut or are variable. The more species that I have seen, the more obvious it has become to me that once all the species are known we shall have to return to a greater simplicity. The desire to create new genera in natural history has now become all the more pernicious as many people simply propose a name or include it in a catalogue without giving any further definition for it. Because entomology is a convenient subject, attracting many collectors and collections, many people take pleasure in creating groups, proposing names, and distributing them in lists all round the world, but this actually helps and achieves very little. Of course everyone can do what he likes, if it is for himself and for his own convenience, but it is a different matter if it then becomes something for public use. I know that many people will be dissatisfied that I have not created more genera, but I could not convince myself that it would be either necessary or useful to do so. Let me give a few examples. Tachina bombylans and armata: the first of these species was known to Fabricius, but he placed it in the genus Stomoxys. In Coquebert's Iconibus (1804), most of which are drawn and coloured with far too little accuracy, this species is illustrated on plate XXV, fig. 16, from the specimen in Bosc's collection in Paris, the locality of which was not known. I had long before described Tachina bombylans under another name from Caffraria and had several specimens in my collection. It never occurred to me that a Tachina, and especially one belonging to the first group which includes the original Tachina of Meigen and Fabricius, was to be found under Stomoxys. However, when I reached the genus Stomoxys in the preparation of my manuscript and made another examination of Coquebert's work, having also become aware through my own species Stomoxys vexans from Brazil that there are species of Stomoxys that resemble the stoutest Tachinids in their form, I suddenly saw the light and when I compared this illustration with my own specimens I was convinced that there could be no doubt as to their identity, as anyone who makes the same comparison will easily see for himself. The long proboscis suggests Stomoxys rather than Tachina, but everything else points in the opposite direction. The palpi are so long that when the elbowed base of the proboscis is retracted into the resting position they reach to the tip of the proboscis and surround it like a sheath. This same contradictory conformation of the antennae and entire habitus with the elongated proboscis and palpi is also found in the second species mentioned above, T. armata, which is from South America and greatly resembles T. bombylans though there are so many differences that no confusion is possible. A third very similar species, T. corpulenta, comes from Mexico. However, there is a fourth species, Tachina pyrrhaspis, which also has certain external similarities with that species but which according to the antennae belongs to the third section. Many people would certainly have wished to create a separate genus for the first two of these species, but I have refrained from doing so because a simple difference in the dimensions of one part cannot be a generic character, and an identical structure of the antennae is just as much an indicator of fundamental agreement as an identical length of the proboscis. For this reason both species must remain in Tachina. I should also point out here that of the three species illustrated by Coquebert and described by Fabricius in Ent. Syst., IV (1794), page 396, no. 11, 12, and in its Supplementum (1798) and in other works as belonging to the genus Stomoxys, none in fact belongs to this genus: Stomoxys dorsalis is a Myopa, and Stomoxys stylata is either a Myopa or a Siphona or neither of these genera; the species illustrated immediately above St. stylata as Stomoxys asiliformis, or Asilus muscarius, for it is dealt with under both names and genera in Ent. Syst. (1794) and again in Syst. Antl. (1805) (though as Dioctria muscaria on the second occasion), does not belong to any of these genera but rather to Hybos which Fabricius, following Meigen, included in his Syst. Antl..

I could not make up my mind whether to separate Temnocera, erected on page 786 of the 10th volume (1828) of the Encyclopédie méthodique by Le Peletier de St. Fargeau and A. Serville, from the genus Volucella. The authors themselves state that it only differs by the much (?) longer 3rd antennal segment and the absence of spines on the scutellum. My Volucella spinigera from Montevideo would belong here, on the basis of the length of the 3rd antennal segment, which is emarginate before the middle, and the presence of scutellar spines. However, Volucella abdominalis from Cuba is a perfect transitional form because its antennae are somewhat shorter and the scutellum is completely unarmed.

In the Mémoires de la Soc. d'Hist. nat. de Paris (1827), 3, 390 etc, Robineau-Desvoidy has published his "Essai sur la tribu des Culicides" in which he has erected several new genera at least some of which are untenable. Sabethes has the generic diagnosis: middle tibiae and tarsi fringed and thus appearing expanded. The species: 1. S. locuples. This is my Culex remipes (see volume 1, page 573, no. 1) and should not be separated generically from Culex just because of the structure of the middle legs as it agrees completely with Culex in every other respect. 2. S. longipes (Cul. long. Fabr.). The author himself considers that this is more probably a true Culex, and I agree with him (see volume 1, page 7, no. 11). The genus Psorophora differs by the presence of two dorsal appendages on the prothorax and conical punctures on each side of the mesothorax. Species: Ps. boscii. It gives a very painful bite, is 2 lines long, pale yellow in colour with rather brownish legs and haired (? "velues") wing-veins, and is called "mosquito" in Carolina. I do not know the species but am very doubtful whether the appendages justify its elevation to a distinct genus, for a similar structure is also found in other species of quite different generic affinity. The genus Megarhinus. With a long proboscis that is bent towards its tip, and very parallel (?) wings. The species Cul. haemorrhoidalis Fabr., and also C. splendens, C. ferox, C. violaceus, etc (see volume 1, pages 1-5), belong here. They may well form a special series, but not a genus or tribe.

As more and more species of insect are known, it becomes less and less likely that parts or the structure of parts will be used as generic characters if they are not consistently present or if they show a gradual transition from one conformation to another. For this reason, genera which are at present based only an a single species may well have to be modified in the future.

So far as the terminology is concerned, I should point out that in this second volume I am following Latreille (Familles nat.du règne animal, Paris, 1825) in employing the term "epistoma", and not "hypostoma" as used by Bouché in Berlin, for the lower edge of the face; and that when I write of "foot" or "feet", then I mean by this the Latin "tarsus", which translates as "base of the foot".

Now that my energy and eyesight are declining, I have no greater desire than that these little creatures to which I owe so many hours of pleasure will not be neglected in the future.

Content by F. Christian Thompson
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