Hover flies of the family Syrphidae are a highly diverse group of insects that exhibit varied life histories and provide numerous ecosystem services. Despite their importance, they are highly understudied, and many biological and distributional patterns remain unknown in regions like the midwestern United States. Data from specimens exist in regional insect collections but is largely undigitized and thus inaccessible to much of the scientific community. Here, we report our efforts to identify, recurate, and digitize thousands of specimens from the Illinois Natural History Survey Insect Collection. We then combine these data with existing datasets to compile a comprehensive checklist of Illinois hover fly fauna, assess for temporal range expansion/contraction trends, and identify species of potential conservation significance. All total, the over 20,000 specimens/records we examined revealed 209 species within 71 genera and all 4 subfamilies of Syrphidae to have ever occurred in Illinois. Based on previously published data, 68 of these species are new Illinois state records and 36 expand the previously known range significantly. Numerous species found in Illinois historically have only recently been reported further north, while others of historically southern distribution appear to be extending their range northward, possibly due to anthropogenic factors like climate change. Furthermore, 73 species have not been reported in Illinois since at least 1995, and 27 are deemed to be of potential conservation significance with few to no recent records in the Midwest or elsewhere. Our findings illustrate the importance of routine expansion, curation, and digitization of natural history collections.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science