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Diptera: Flies and midges in our Data Portal

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Arrangement of flies and mosquitoes on a white background
Press release,

The Museum für Naturkunde Berlin has set itself an ambitious goal: to make its entire collection (a total of about 30 million objects!) digitally accessible. Our Data Portal is the place where the digitized collection becomes visible and searchable for everyone. In the process of our collection development, we provide a glimpse into another part of our insect collection.

Insects of the order Diptera (flies and mosquitoes) are characterized by the fact that, unlike most other insects, they develop only two wings instead of the usual four. Their hind wings are reduced to so-called halteres, a pair of small club-shaped organs. The Dipterans include more than 130,000 described species worldwide, which are divided into 140 families, including the well-known hoverflies and horseflies as well as mosquitoes and crane flies. In Germany, we count over 9,000 species.

To date, the Dipteran collection is the only sub-collection whose species inventory has been completely digitized at the drawer level. "Diptera – Flies and midges" combines images of the boxes taken several years ago as part of the EoS project with newly created and up-to-date photos. In addition, our collection staff has enriched the images with extensive metadata. Within the families, all approximately 1.5 thousand Diptera drawers can easily be searched at the genus level. The images are available to the public under a free license (public domain) for creative reuse and research.

Collection showcase with flies and mosquitoes of the data portal

Among the 26,000 species in our collection are highlights such as the South American Mydas flies (family Mydidae), which are among the largest dipterans in the world with a body size of up to six centimetres. The collection also houses the small wingless Kerguelen flies (family Micropezidae/ stilt-legged flies), which cannot fly at all due to their missing or stubby wings and which some may remember from school lessons.