Phoridae is a family of small, hump-backed flies resembling fruit flies. They can often be identified by their escape habit of running rapidly across a surface rather than flying away. This behaviour is a source of one of their alternate names, scuttle fly. About 4,000 species are known in 230 genera. At 0.4 mm in length, the world's smallest fly is the phorid species Euryplatea nanaknihali.
The species Megaselia scalaris is important in forensic entomology because evidence derived from the lifecycle and behavior of these flies is useful and admissible in court. The species is small in size; this allows them to locate carrion buried within the ground and to locate bodies concealed in coffins.
As part of BioSCAN, a project devoted to exploring the insect diversity in and around the city of Los Angeles, a team of three entomologists report on their latest discovery -- 12 new scuttle fly species of the genus Megaselia.
The extensive BioSCAN project is still ongoing thanks to its passionate staff, international collaborators and advisors, as well as the large number of students and volunteers. Being especially grateful for their help, the researchers have named one of the fly species Megaselia studentorum and another one Megaselia voluntariorum.
For the experts: Presented are continued results from the BioSCAN Project, an urban biodiversity study sampling primarily from private backyards in Los Angeles, California (USA). Twelve new species of Megaselia (Diptera: Phoridae) are described: M. baileyae, M. friedrichae, M. gonzalezorum, M. joanneae, M. losangelensis, M. phyllissunae, M. pongsaiae, M. shatesae, M. stoakesi, M. studentorum, M. voluntariorum, M. wongae.