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Species Cirrula hians - Alkali Fly

Mono Lake alkali fly - Cirrula hians Mono Lake Alkali Fly - Cirrula hians Mono Lake Alkali Fly - Cirrula hians Alkali fly - Cirrula hians Mono Lake alkali fly larva - Cirrula hians Mono Lake alkali fly larva - Cirrula hians Mono Lake alkali fly larva - Cirrula hians Alkali fly - Cirrula hians
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon ("Acalyptratae")
Superfamily Ephydroidea
Family Ephydridae (Shore Flies)
Subfamily Ephydrinae
Genus Cirrula
Species hians (Alkali Fly)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
From (1):
Ephydra hians Say, 1830. Jour. Acad. Sci Phil., 6:188
Ephydra crassimana Loew, 1865
Ephydra californica Packard, 1871 Amer. Jour. of Sci. & Arts, 3rd Ser., 1:103 6:188
Ephydra tarsata Williston, 1893
Ephydra salina Curran, 1931
Cirrula hians combination introduced in the 1995 catalog of Ephydridae
Three or four pairs of fronto-orbital bristles present, two presutural dorsocentral bristles present, two pairs of cruciate interfrontal bristles present, arista about equal in length as antennal segments 1-3 combined, one prescutellar acrostichal bristle distinct and present, and males with subapical ventral tuft of long hairs on the fore basitarsus (Mathis & Marinoni, 2016).
B.C. to Minn., s. to Calif., and Okla., Mexico. (1)
This rather famous alkali fly has a large, ancient lake (Mono Lake), a native American tribe (the Kucadikadi), and a California county (Mono county) named after it. It occurs in huge numbers along the shores of Mono Lake, where its larvae were collected as a food source and traded widely in pre-European contact times. It also occurs at other alkali lakes in the west, and was even recorded from Lake Texcoco near Mexico City, where it was also reportedly used historically as a food source.
The accounts of Williston (1883) and Aldrich (1912) are of interest, the latter giving the most detailed early description of adults, larvae, biology, and historic use as a food source by Native Americans.
Print References
Aldrich, J. M. (1912). The biology of some western species of the dipterous genus Ephydra. J. New York Entomol. Soc., 20:77-99. (Full Text)
Cash, Clark & Bradley, T.J. (1994). External morphology of the alkali fly (Ephydra hians) Say at Mono Lake, California (USA) in relation to physical habitat. Journal of Morphology 219(3): 309-318.
Herbst, David B. (1986). Comparative studies of the population ecology and life history patterns of an alkaline salt lake insect: Ephydra hians Say,Ph.D. thesis, Oregon St. Univ., Corvallis. 206pp. (Full Text)
Herbst, David B. (1988). Comparative population ecology of Ephydra hians Say (Diptera: Ephydridae) at Mono Lake (California) and Abert Lake (Oregon). Great Basin Naturalist, 59(2), 127:135.(Full Text)
Herbst, David B. (1990). Distribution and abundance of the alkali fly at Mono Lake, California in relation to physical habitat. Hydrobiologia 197:193-205. (Full Text)
Herbst, David B. (1999). Biogeography and physiological adaptations of brine fly genus Ephydra Say (Diptera: Ephydridae) in saline waters of the Great Basin. Hydrobiologia 158: 145-166 (Full Text)
Foley, C. J. & White B. N. (1989). Occurrence of Ephydra hians Say (Diptera: Ephydridae) in deep water in Mono Lake. Bull. So. Cal. Acad. Sci., v.88 no.1, pp. 40-41. (Full Text)
Williston, S. W. (1883). Dipterous larvae from the western alkaline lakes and their use as human food. Trans. Conn. Acad. Arts & Sci., 6:87-90 (Full Text)
Mathis, WN. & Marinoni, L. (2016). Revision of Ephydrini Zetterstedt (Diptera: Ephydridae) from the Americas south of the United States. Zootaxa 4116(1): 1-110. Link
Internet References
Natural History of the Mono Lake Alkali Fly from the 1993 Mono Lake EIR at
Alkali Fly web page from the Mono Lake Committee web site.
Images of California Gulls and other birds feeding on swarms of E. hians at Great Salt Lake, UT. (See also here)
Works Cited
1.A Catalog of the Diptera of America North of Mexico
Alan Stone, et al. 1965. United States Department of Agriculture.