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Information on Robber Flies

Increase of Described Species

© F. Geller-Grimm 1997

Asilus crabroniformis L, 1758 [Veen 1996]
Asilus crabroniformis L, 1758 [Veen 1996]

HULL (1962): "Linnaeus (Linné; 1758), in his tenth edition of ''Systema naturae'' erected the genus Asilus, ascribing to it 11 species, and added 4 others in his twelfth edition (1767) of the same work. Of these 15 species included in the genus by Linné, 10 have been assigned to other genera, 2 remain in Asilus and 3 cannot be recognized with certainty, because of the brevity of the orginal descriptions. A list of reassignments of Linné's species is given under the subfamily Asilinae. His species Asilus crabroniformis (1758), stands as the type of the genus Asilus and the type of the family Asilidae. Family status is credited to Leach in Samouelle (1819).

J.C. Fabricius, in five publications from 1775 to 1805, describes 76 exotic and European species and erected the genus Damalis. Wiedemann, from 1817 to 1830, described 235 species, many of which were exotic. He proposed 3 genera, all of them used today. Meigen 1800 to 1838, described many species in his treatment of the European asilids and in an early work of 1803 erected 4 genera, 3 of which now represent subfamilies.

H. Loew (1807-1879) [Rohlfien 1994]
H. Loew (1807-1879) [Rohlfien 1994]

About the middle of the nineteenth century, a number of dipterists made significant contributions to the study of the family Asilidae; among them were Loew, Macquart, Walker, Rondani and Bigot, but none more important than the indefatigable Loew, who, besides describing great numbers of species, proposed 83 genera, 75 of which are still recognized , although 5 of these names required changing on account of preoccupation.

Later, considerable work was done by Schiner, Williston, Lynch Arribálzaga, Philippi, Jaennicke, Roeder and Becker. by 1900 a total of 254 genera had been proposed, of which 170 are still valid. During the first half of the twentieth century, many careful students of the Asilidae have appeared. Very excellent contributions have resulted from the studies of Hermann on the South American genera, Engel in his monumental volume on asilids in Lindner's ''Fliegen der Paläarktischen Region'' and Efflatoun's ''A monograph of Egyptian Diptera. Famlily Asilidae'', besides the work of Oldroyd, Becker, Bezzi, and Ricardo. White made pioneer studies of Australian asilids and was later followed by G.H. Hardy. In North America, Hine became early interested in this family. Shortly thereafter Curran, Bromley, Pritchard, Wilcox, James, and Martin industriously contributed many papers; and recently Carrera has made important contributions to a study of the South American fauna. A recital of past studies of Asilidae reads very much like a directory of dipterists, so popular has been this family and I have for reasons of space omitted many well known dipterists who made briefer contributions. ... Attention must also be called to the signal contribution of Melin (1923), whose manumental and painstaking work on the morphology of immature stages and the behavior of asilids is our best study on this aspect of these Diptera."

Our knowledge about the biology of larvae and adults became supplemented by a number of dipterists since Melin's work (for example by Lehr, Adamovic, Dennis, Lavigne, Shelly and Musso). New fundamental information can be found in the doctoral thesis of Musso (1978). Unfortunately this work is not published until today - but Dr. Joseph-Jean Musso gave the permission to offer his dissertation on CD-ROM (written in French). All pages are saved as "TIFF"-data files by Fritz Geller-Grimm. If you have an interest in this fundamental work, please contact F. Geller-Grimm.
The new bibliography [cf. Database] contains the work about 800 authors and 2800 titels. The list of addresses indicates the great interest in Asilidae from all over the world.

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Compiled by: F. Geller-Grimm