Advance praise for Flies:
Stephen A. Marshall has delivered one of the most beautiful and useful accounts of insect life ever written.
-- Edward O. Wilson, Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
Meticulously researched and illustrated with more than 2000 color photographs taken by the author, Flies is a landmark reference book that will be indispensable to any naturalist, biologist or entomologist. Most photographs in this encyclopedic reference were taken in the field and show the insects in their natural environment. All of the world's fly families are included, with photographic coverage spanning the range from common deer flies and fruit flies through to deadly tsetse flies and malaria mosquitoes, with thousands of spectacular species such as exotic stalk eyed flies, giant robber flies and hedgehog flies in between.
Flies is broken up into three parts: Life Histories, Habits and Habitats of Flies; Diversity; and Identifying and Studying Flies. The 20 pages of profusely illustrated keys linked to the unprecedented photographic coverage of the world's fly families and subfamilies enable the reader to identify most flies quickly and accurately, and to readily access information about each family as well as hundreds of distinctive genera and species.
Part 1: Life Histories, Habits and Habitats of Flies
Chapter 1 -- Life Histories of Flies
Chapter 2 -- Flies, Plants and Fungi
Chapter 3 -- Flies and Vertebrates
Chapter 4 -- Flies and Invertebrates
Part 2: Diversity
Chapter 5 -- Origins and Distribution of the Diptera
Chapter 6 -- The Lower Diptera
Chapter 7 -- The Lower Brachycera and Empidoidea
Chapter 8 -- The Higher Brachycera or Cyclorrhapha
Part 3: Identifying and Studying Flies
Chapter 9 -- Collecting, Preserving and Rearing Flies
Chapter 10 -- Identifying Fly Families
Stephen A. Marshall is a professor of entomology at the University of Guelph, where he developed a major insect collection and carries out research on insect systematics and biodiversity. He has discovered hundreds of new species, several new genera and even two new subfamilies. He is the author of Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity.
excerpted from the INTRODUCTION: The Dominance of Diptera
Most species of animals belong to one of four large orders: the Coleoptera (beetles), Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, bees and sawflies) or Diptera (flies). Of these megadiverse groups, the flies are arguably the most important, if only because they kill millions of people a year by transmitting our most devastating diseases. But this enormous impact is due to only a few dozen species, and dipteran damage to forests, crops and stored products is similarly due to mere dozens of different fly genera. Vastly more -- thousands of species -- are beneficial, contributing to the pollination of plants, biological control of pest insects, and disposal of the dung, carrion and other organic matter that would otherwise quickly carpet the planet. Despite all this, a relatively large proportion of the species in the order Diptera remains undiscovered, unnamed or unidentifiable. This is perhaps in part because of the natural attraction of insect enthusiasts to shining beetles and colorful moths, and perhaps in part because so many groups of flies are relatively small and soft-bodied, and thus more difficult to preserve and study. Up until very recently the study of most groups of flies was also rendered more challenging by a dearth of accessible literature.
The 160,000 or so species of flies so far discovered and described represent just over 10 percent of named animal species, but it is anybody's guess how many species remain to be formally named. The number of named species in the order is currently expanding by about 1 percent per year; at that rate it will be a while before we know the real number, but we probably share the planet with between 400,000 and 800,000 fly species. Of course an indeterminate number of species still await discovery in the other megadiverse orders as well, especially among the parasitic Hymenoptera, but it seems likely that at least 15 - 20 percent of all animal species are flies. And in most terrestrial and aquatic habitats the proportion of individuals is much higher, with adult flies generally comprising 35 - 75 percent of the insect specimens taken by sampling devices ranging from aerial plankton nets down to interception, Malaise and pan traps at ground level. You can get a sense of this by sweeping a net around a wetland or forest and examining the entire catch, or by scrutinizing the splatters on your car windshield. See for yourself -- flies rule!
Introduction: The Dominance of Diptera PART 1: Life Histories, Habits and Habitats of Flies