Svalbard. Pictographic. Invertebrate. Database and. Educational. Resource.

The flies (Diptera)



Flies (Diptera) As is common in the Arctic the flies, Diptera, form the most numerous insects. Perhaps the most noticeable being the non-biting chironomids numerous in the summer. These spend most of their lives as larvae before pupating and emerging as adults. Since the adults do not feed they have a short period as an adult. To conserve energy the males often wait on the ground until they hear a female fly past, responding to the sound of her wings. This behaviour was deduced by a Finnish biologist who observed that he could induce the males to take to the air by humming a Finnish folk tune. Left; chironomid (non-biting midge) larvae. These larvae are common in freshwaters or organic soils on Svalbard, especially if the soils are moist. Right; chironomid pupae.

Left <i>Chironomus lugrubris</i>, right <i>Trichocera</i> sp.
Left: Chironomus lugubris. Right: Trichocerida regelationis (Zoological museum, University of Oslo)

<i>Heleomyza borealis</i> Close up of the wing of a fly

The mosquito in Svalbard, <i>Ochlerotatus (Aedes) nigripes<i>
Mosquito, Aedes nigripes

There are also mosquitoes on Svalbard. These can be extremely numerous, especially in Adventdalen, around Brucebyen and Kapp Thordsen. The species is irritating but not thought to spread disease on Svalbard. The commonly repeated story that the mosquito was accidentally imported to Svalbard by phosphate miners is, unfortunately, likely to be incorrect (See Box in Where do they come from?).

Left, Spyflue <i>Protophormia terraenovae</I> on a house in Longyearbyen. Right, With the correct bait this spyflue can be caught in large numbers !  Baited Malaise trap behind UNIS. July 2009.
The blowfly Protophormia terraenovae and how to collect it with dead fish bait. Don't set these traps behind your house and go away for the weekend or your neighbours will complain. Be warned.


Spyfluer <i>Cynomia mortuorum</I>
Protophormia terraenovae, the blowfly

Top left, the dungfly <i>Scatophaga</I> sp. proudly atop polar bear dung. Top right. Dungfly eggs, the white spots, on reindeer dung. Left <i>Coelopa frigida</i> Left <i>Copromyza stercoraria</i>, right <i>Scatophaga furcata</i>

One of the dungflies present in Svalbard, Scataphaga furcata (from the zoology museum collection, University of Oslo)

Left <i>Heleomyza</i> sp., right <i>Priophilia</i> sp.