You don’t have to go far to help the Vermont Atlas of Life discover species new to Vermont. You just have to be observant. On August 12th Roy Pilcher, citizen scientist extraordinaire and recipient of the Julie Nicholson Citizen Science Award in 2009, found one in his car!
Roy was visiting the Helen W. Buckner Memorial Natural Area when he noticed that a large fly had flown through his open car window. Luckly, Roy is friends with Dr. Jeff Freeman, Professor Emeritus at Castleton University. Jeff has devoted much of his research into horse and deer flies and his extensive collections are housed at the University of Vermont Natural History Museum, Rutgers University, Natural History Museum in Philadelphia and other museums. Curious as to its identity, Roy captured the fly and delivered it to Jeff for an identification. The fly was Tabanus limbatinevris, a new species for Vermont!
Lacking a common name, Tabanus limbatinevris was first described in 1847, but remained unrecognized until 1983 because it was confused with other similar horse flies. Its range was thought to be from Michigan and Ontario east to New Hampshire, and south to Georgia and Texas, but it had never been found in Vermont before Roy’s fortunate discovery.
Roy, a dedicated user of the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist added his observation and Jeff’s identification to the project. The specimen will join others in the UVM Natural History Museum collection. There are now 14 species of horseflies known from Vermont.