There is a popular misconception that we have to travel to tropical rainforests or unexplored corners of the globe to discover a new species. Wrong! Even right here in southern Quebec, in one of the most densely populated parts of the country, we have discovered and described new species of insects.
This is the first in a series of posts introducing the world (well, those few who will read this blog) to some of these new discoveries.
Elachiptera aquila Wheeler, 2003
This short-winged chloropid fly can be found in a variety of freshwater wetlands in southwestern Quebec and Ontario. The first known specimens were collected in bogs and fens in southern Ontario and we have since collected this species in sedge meadows in the Lac Saint-Francois marshes along the south shore of the St. Lawrence River west of Montreal. Like other members of the genus Elachiptera, the larvae are probably scavengers. Interestingly, the closest relative of this species is found in saltmarshes along the Atlantic coast of the United States.
Neophyllomyza gaulti Brochu & Wheeler, 2009
This little milichiid fly is found in deciduous forests in eastern North America. It was first described from the Mont Saint-Hilaire Biosphere Reserve, a McGill University field station southeast of Montreal. Although this species was for many years confused with the very similar species Neophyllomyza quadricornis, Lyman undergraduate student Kristen Brochu found that not only are the two species morphologically distinct, their ecology is also different. This little fly is a great example of a case in which taxonomic resolution helps to clarify ecological patterns. For more information on the taxonomy and ecology of Neophyllomyza, see Brochu and Wheeler (2009) under Publications.