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Flies: The Natural History and Diversity of Diptera Hardcover – 25 Oct 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 616 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books Ltd (25 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770851003
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770851009
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 4.4 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 540,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


A must have for fly fans.--Ian Paulsen"Birdbooker Report 241, GrrlScientist, The Guardian" (09/30/2012)

If the title of this book turns you off, judge it instead by its appealing cover photograph of two whimsically patterned insects perched on a yellow flower. Author Marshall, a professor of entomology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, has produced the definitive work on creatures of the order Diptera, combining scholarly thoroughness and popular accessibility with his own eye-popping photos. Here you'll find descriptions of these diminutive creatures' life histories and behavior, a complete guide to classifying and identifying them, and even a section on trapping and preserving specimens for display. Still, most readers, conditioned to swat at the merest dipteran buzz, may prefer to make this handsome book the extent of their personal fly collection.--Laurence A. Marschall"Natural History" (11/01/2012)

Marshall...renders mature scholarship accessible and interesting to lay readers... Part 1 provides an overview of fly life histories and their interactions with plants and animals. Part 2 introduces the origins and distribution of the Diptera as well as a detailed global overview of fly families and subfamilies. Part 3 deals with collecting, preserving, and identifying flies... Over 2000 color photographs, including many remarkable close-up views of flies, supplement the text.... Notable for broad scope, cogent organization, informed entries, clear writing, and revealing photographs, [the book] merits a strong recommendation for acquisition by academic, special, and public libraries.--Nancy Cannon"Booklist" (03/01/2013)

Meticulously researched and illustrated.... Flies is a landmark reference book that will be indispensable to any naturalist, biologist or entomologist.--Ian Paulsen"GrrlScientist, The Guardian" (10/01/2012)

University of Guelph entomologist Marshall has been an insect enthusiast since he was five. He notes that diptera (flies) have been around for more than 300 million years and that they have an enormous impact on the planet, killing millions of people by transmitting disease but also pollinating plants and disposing of dung and carrion that would quickly otherwise overwhelm us. Part 1 of the book describes the life of the creatures, Part 2 examines their diversity, and Part 3 gives advice on how to study, collect, and identify flies. With 2,200 stunning color photos, this book offers a whole new perspective on a world of more than 160,000 species.--Brian E. Coutts and Cheryl LaGuardia"Library Journal, Best Reference of 2012" (03/28/2013)

Robin McLeod reviewed (very positively) Stephen Marshall's Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity in the February 2008 Cardinal (No. 210). Dr. Marshall is a professor at the University of Guelph and has advanced the technique of insect identification using photography of living specimens. In his just-released book on flies, he follows on with his winning format, presenting more than 2000 photos of flies from around the world. Part 1 of the book discusses the life histories, habits, and habitats of flies. Part 2 covers the diversity of Diptera. Part 3 is devoted to collection and identification.--Hugh Casbourn"The Cardinal No. 229, The McIlwraith Field Natural" (11/01/2012)

Flies is written and imaged for both the academic and the enthusiastic layperson. It contains some 2000 color images of flies in their natural environment, nearly all taken by the author. He has selected...those that he finds especially fascinating and those essential for demonstrating global dipteran diversity in form and function... Marshall's text tells compelling stories about all these kinds of flies that are easily read by citizen naturalists and high-schoolers in science class, as well as professional biologists of all walks of study... Without a doubt, Marshall sets high standards.--Terry L. Erwin, Hyper-diversity Group, Department"ZooKeys 261:85-86 (2013)" (01/24/2013)

This is the first time that fly biology and natural history has so thoroughly been covered in one place for novices, students, and experts, and thereby adds a major access point to knowledge on Diptera. ... The author, Stephen Marshall, is a world authority on flies and a recognized teacher of entomology. He successfully mixes fascinating biology, strong scientific context, and visual wonder in this book... both novices and students can develop a sense of the breadth of fly diversity in an organized and scientifically accurate framework... A large fraction of the work is a photographic compendium and guide to flies and so it functions as a reference, an identification tool, a study guide, and a celebration of fly diversity. The final two chapters will be particularly valuable to students of insect diversity who need to know more about collecting and identifying flies. This includes a chapter on collecting and photographing flies that brings the author's passions to light through his enjoyable journey and real passion for documenting fly diversity. In all, this is a beautiful and valuable scholarly resource for fly biologists, students, and naturalists illuminating these little appreciated, but ubiquitous, animals in all their complexity and wonder.--Brian M. Wiegmann, Entomology, North Carolina Stat"Quarterly Review of Biology Vol 88 No 4" (12/01/2013)

This voluminous book is the first worldwide treatment of the order Diptera to be published. The author...is not only a well-known and very experienced dipterist but also an excellent photographer of insects, who is moreover endowed with an indisputably great literary talent and enormous creativity. All these attributes and abilities combined with great experience in science and teaching were utilized in the preparation of this extraordinary publication.... The Pictorial keys to the families of Diptera worldwide, which include a review of the morphological characters used, forms a particularly valuable part of the last chapter called Identifying Flies... The major merit of this work is its intelligibility and readability, which make it accessible not only to dipterists but to a wide public interested in natural history. The unusual number (over 2,000) of spectacular colour macro-photographs of flies, which form an integral part of this book, greatly increases its attractiveness. Even the most demanding Diptera specialist is likely to be enthusiastic about Marshall's Flies. This is because not only does it include up-to-date information on all currently recognised families of Diptera but also photographs of at least one representative of each family, including some extremely rare or even mysterious ones, 99 percent of which are of living specimens! If nothing else, the considerable effort over many years that was required of the author to achieve this should be greatly appreciated. Who of the contemporary researchers in Diptera could say that he/she had studied or even seen a species of all the families of flies in the world? Surely, almost nobody, but Steve Marshall has enabled us to fill these gaps in our personal knowledge of this order of insects. Finally, also the esthetical aspects of flies should be stressed. The splendid photographs show us the beauty of the colours, forms and diversity of the often very peculiar structures of flies, all of which further contribute to the attractiveness of this book. It is admirable that the author was able to summarize the vast amount of published data on taxonomy, phylogeny, biology, distribution etc. in this valuable worldwide survey of the order Diptera. We the reviewers have already been working with flies many years, but nevertheless could not have produced such an enormous synthetic study as this.... This excellent book can be recommended to all readers interested in flies be they professional dipterists, teachers or simply nature or photography enthusiasts. There is no other similar comprehensive, well-illustrated and up-to-date book on this extremely diverse and important group of insects.--J. Rohacek and J. Sevcik, Silesian Museum, Opava"European Journal of Entomology Vol 110 No. 3" (01/01/2013)

About the Author

Stephen A. Marshall is a professor of entomology at the University of Guelph, where he developed a major insect collection and carries out research on insect systematics and biodiversity. He has discovered hundreds of new species, several new genera and even two new subfamilies. He is the author of Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am not a 'Fly Fanatic' but have been interested in Diptera since reading Oldroyd's 'Natural History of Flies' back in the 1960's. My sons decided that Marshall's 'Flies' would make a suitable Christmas Gift - and I must count it as one of the most enjoyable surprise presents I've ever received.
It is a big book, both in dimensions and number of pages - over 600.
The first section starts with Life Histories, Habits and Habitats, painting in quite graphic terms the incredible range of strategies employed by the Diptera, and the varied and diverse relationships they have with other organisms and the the impact they have on man, both directly and indirectly.
The second, and largest section of the book, deals with Diversity, starting with probable origins, to present day distributions. This is followed by four hundred odd pages describe individual families, their appearance habits,and any other points of interest, illustrated with photographic guides. The families are arranged under their old familiar groupings of Nematocera, Brachycera etc.
The final section considers collecting, preserving and identifying flies, covering everything from photography to physically collecting,preserving and recording specimens. Lastly keys (which I've yet to try out) with excellent annotated photographs showing those features that are always used in keys, but for someone like myself extremely difficult to find!
The Photography is stunning, and like Oldroyd the book is eminently readable, with a total lack of convoluted prose that ruin so many otherwise excellent monographs.
I have only one very minor critisism, the blocks of pictures in photographic guides are large enough to be useful, but could also have been duplicated at higher definition on an included CD.
This is a great book, and deserves a place on anyones bookshelf who is interested in insects, or indeed, the living world around them.
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This is a large book which describes the diversity of flies throughout the world - and this it does. This is ambitious so the result from a British perspective is that few of the seven thousand British flies can be dealt with when there are one hundred and sixty thousand worldwide. In the pictorial illustration pages there are nine small pictures of flies in their natural habitat with their descriptions per page - too small to see much detail, and a concentration on non-European flies. The chapters on the families, development, etc. apply to flies wherever they are, so are very useful. Overall, it is a pity that there is not a book that deals only with European flies, but there isn't, so this is the best that is available.
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A very readable account of Diptera world-wide with emphasis on their diverse structure and family relationships and their equally varied and fascinating life histories. The work is copiously illustrated with excellent photographs of living flies that complement the text and do not serve as mere decoration. The book is sturdily bound and at over 600 pages of large format good quality paper could easily double as a weight-training accessory! In his introduction the author compares it to the venerable book on British flies by Colyer and Hammond in the Warne Wayside and Woodland series. The present work is much wider in scope and with its larger size is able to encompass far more detail of dipteran biology and is of course far better illustrated. An excellent introduction to these insects for serious non-specialists, with a wealth of information that will delight dipterists of all abilities.
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Remarkable book, covering all the main groups with excellent photos. Despite the majority being from around the world, especially north America, still very useful for us in the UK.mwell worth it.
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