North American Authority on Black Flies Comes to BYU


A guest lecturer from Clemson University will speak about the influence of black flies on the health and population dynamics of wildlife this week at the Monte L. Bean Life Science museum.

Peter Adler, professor of entomology at Clemson University will present “Blood Bath:  Interactions of Black Flies and Wildlife” on March 7 in the Monte L. Bean auditorium.

“Black flies are found virtually anywhere that freshwater flows,” Adler said in an email. He said the paradoxical role of black flies has intrigued him to study them for decades.

“[In its] immature stages, particularly the larvae play an enormously beneficial role both as food for other organisms and as processors of organic matter that can be used by other organisms,” he said. “Yet, adult black flies are universally viewed as vectors of disease agents or pests to be eliminated.”

Patty Jones, administrative assistant to the director at the museum, said there are more reasons why Adler is coming all the way from South Carolina to Utah.

“He knows everything about black files and he is going to help us with our collection of them to identify the different species and fauna,” she said.

[pullquote]”It’s been said a third of the crops that are grown worldwide are either eaten or destroyed by insects,”[/pullquote]

Richard Baumann, emeritus curator of insects at the museum and the host of the lecture, said Adler is a charming man and an excellent speaker. He said Adler also donated a few specimens that he collected from Alaska to the museum.

“We call him a southern gentleman,” Baumann said. “He is a North American authority on black flies, and he has given numerous speeches on insects throughout the U.S. and other countries.”

Showing the collection of black flies in test tubes filled with alcohol at the museum archive, Baumann emphasized the importance of studying insects because they are everywhere and interact with everything.

“In fact, it’s been said a third of the crops that are grown worldwide are either eaten or destroyed by insects,” he said. “Think about that economically – a third. They are competing with us. They also carry diseases and some black files are disease carriers … we can’t just say they are there, but we need to know what they are.”

The museum will have a public reception with refreshments at 6:30 p.m. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.


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