No flies on him, as Australian Museum scientist Dan Bickel teaches a fly course to Asian students.

Diptera training worskhop, 2009.
Dr Dan Bickel and Scott Ginn help a student identify a specimen. Image: Carl Bento
© Australian Museum

I led a training workshop, “The Identification of pest Diptera (true or two-winged flies) of agricultural importance” from 6–10 June 2016 for ASEAN students at the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The workshop was sponsored by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, as part of their technical capacity building program for ASEAN countries. The course focussed on the identification and morphology of major families in the order Diptera. The workshop also covered basic techniques for collecting and preserving Diptera, their life history and ecological strategies, as well as noting the commonly encountered agricultural pests and quarantine threats in Southeast Asia.

Located in the forested mountains near Chiang Mai, Thailand, the Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens is an ideal place to hold such a biodiversity workshop. The Garden has modern lecture rooms and laboratories, and within ten minutes you can be collecting in rich Oriental rainforest. The participants were mostly technicians and quarantine entomologists from all the ASEAN countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

ASEAN Diptera identification workshop
ASEAN Diptera identification workshop Image: Unknown
© Australian Museum

I was happy with the general outcome of the Diptera workshop. We were able to cover a lot of information, and most of the participants felt confident to identify Diptera families using the standard keys. The students were mostly mature aged and had a range of work experience working with quarantine and insect pests.

Each year the Australian government sponsors a number of such technical capacity building programs in ASEAN countries. Most are related to problems that affect the entire Australasian region, such as agricultural and veterinary pests, some of which are of major quarantine significance for Australia. These workshops facilitate capability building in these nations, both to enable recognition of their own pest species and to ensure high quality exports.

Dan Bickel
Principal Research scientist, retired