Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time working on identifying the flies in my photos. It’s a challenging task. Diptera, the insect order that includes flies, gnats, mosquitoes and a few other similar critters, is thought to contain over 200,000 species. I would estimate that St. Martin is home to at least 300 species, and I have photos of close to 100.

Identifying flies is hard for many reasons. Some are very small, many look very similar to each other, and some may be impossible to identify without dissecting them under a microscope. It’s also hard to know, out of hundreds of thousands of species, which ones are even likely to be in St. Martin. And, of course, while you can look up an image of many flies online, there are just as many or more for which there are no photos online.

It’s also very interesting to learn more about different flies, both how to identify them physically as well as by their habits and preferred habitats. I’m also quickly becoming deeply indebted to, a terrific site with a very active forum where experts and enthusiasts are very helpful with identifications. It’s a superb site, and I wish there was something like it for every insect order.

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