First for Africa

9th International Congress of Dipterology attracts 270 delegates from across the world.

26 November 2018 | Events

The largest scientific meeting worldwide that deals with all aspects of the study of true flies and that is being held in Africa for the very first time – the 9th International Congress of Dipterology – takes place in the capital this week.

“Dipterology” is the study of true or two-winged flies.

The congress covers all aspects of the scientific study of flies, ­including vectors of killer diseases, such as mosquito vectors of malaria, fruit fly pests that affect international trade, and the use of flies in criminal investigations of murder and neglect.

A total of 270 delegates and students from 50 countries are attending the congress, including 60 delegates from 12 African countries as well as most of the leading world scientists in the field.

The programme itself includes four plenary talks, 23 symposia, 257 oral presentations and 57 poster presentations, along with special features that include the launch of the 2019 “Year of the Fly” and the official launch of the Manual of Afrotropical Diptera.

ICD9 has partnered with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Gobabeb Training and Research Centre and the Namibia Scientific Society to bring the congress to Namibia.

According to congress chair, Dr Ashley Kirk-Spriggs, he first submitted a bid for Namibia to host the congress in Brisbane, Australia back in 2002, “but at that time the congress went to Japan, so it is especially satisfying for me that the congress has finally come to Namibia, 16 years later”.

Flies aplenty

Kirk-Spriggs said that most people believe there are only a few species of flies, “but this is far from the truth. In fact, there are more than 160 000 species worldwide, of which 20 000 occur in Africa. It has been estimated that upwards of 30 000 species in Africa await discovery and scientific description.

“Flies are the most important group of insects, as they spread human and veterinary diseases and attack our crops, especially fruits and vegetables, but they are also beneficial as pollinators and degraders of waste.”

Public lectures

An important part of the event are two public lectures which are being organised in collaboration with the Namibia Scientific Society and take place at the Safari Conference Centre. They are Dr Mark Benecke who speaks about “How flies and other insects help us to understand and solve crimes”; and Prof Stephen A. Marshall, whose theme is “Bye Bye Birdie – Hello Year of the Fly!”

The congress is made possible thanks to the support of the National Museum (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and the JRS Biodiversity Foundation in the USA.

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