New insights from re-examining labels and old specimens of the New Zealand black fly, Austrosimulium australense (Schiner) (Diptera:  Simuliidae)

Trevor K. Crosby *1, Douglas A. Craig 2

1 Landcare Research, Private Bag 92170, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
2 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E9

Re-examination of labels with important, old specimens of the New Zealand black fly, Austrosimulium australense (Schiner, 1868), held in Vienna (NHMW), Berlin (ZMHU), London (BMNH), and Auckland (NZAC) has revealed new information surrounding the taxonomic and collecting events associated with these specimens.The species australense was the first simuliid described in the Australasian Region when described as part of the “Novara” expedition publication by Schiner (NHMW). Tonnoir, based in Nelson, examined a specimen from Vienna for his 1925 revision of Australasian species, and placed it in his new genus Austrosimulium as the type-species for the genus: his placement has been accepted by nearly all subsequent researchers. An exception was Enderlein in Berlin, and we now know his 1930 assignment to the European genus Wilhelmia Enderlein was based on his examination of the same specimens in Vienna, but using alternative characters he favoured for defining genera.Literature suggests that a single simuliid specimen was collected from the Bay of Islands in the early 1840s and deposited in BMNH, and has been referred to by the nomen nudum ‘caecutiens Walker’. An unexpected discovery was this record, rather than referring to a single specimen, was in fact a pillbox containing about 450 specimens, all now confirmed as australense. We believe these specimens were collected by Colonial Secretary Sinclair near Waimate North about September 1844, when he was there with Governor FitzRoy for a peace conference resulting from Hone Heke’s cutting down of the flagstaff on Maiki Hill, Kororareka on 8 July

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