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Researchers find 3 previously-unknown fly species in Finnish forests

Researchers from the state forest agency also found 15 fly species that have never been recorded in Finland before.

A species previously unknown to science was discovered in Evo, Hämeenlinna, and named Megaselia haartoi. Image: Esben Bøggild

Three fly species previously unknown to science have been discovered in Finland, Metsähallitus announced on Monday. In addition, researchers also found 15 fly species that have never been detected in Finland before.

The new species were found in Ilomantsi, Lieksa and Kuhmo in eastern Finland as well as in the Evo wilderness area in Hämeenlinna, about 150 km north of Helsinki.

The discoveries were made in 2018 and 2021 from samples collected in Metsähallitus' Beetles LIFE project, a conservation project aimed at helping eight endangered species of beetle. It was coordinated by National Parks Finland, a division of Metsähallitus, and 60-percent funded by the EU’s LIFE Programme.

Most of the species were phorid flies, an extensive family of small humpbacked flies. These included an entirely new species discovered in Evo, Hämeenlinna, which was given the scientific name Megaselia haartoi.

"These new species are proof that even Finland's old forests still contain completely unknown species, even though Finland's species are among the best catalogued in the world," said Sampsa Malmberg, a conservation biologist from National Parks Finland.

Metsähallitus insect surveys are aimed at gathering information, especially about the species living in old-growth forests and areas affected by forest fires.

10% of assessed insect species at risk

In addition to the completely new discoveries, dozens of insects were also found in traps that had only been seen in Finland five times before.

According to Metsähallitus, there are more than 26,000 known species of insects in Finland. However, its latest threat assessment, carried out in 2019, only studied the status of some 13,500 insect species.

About 10 percent of them were classed as threatened or endangered.

Scientists say that as Finland's climate warms, more insects are moving northward, potentially bringing illnesses that affect humans such as malaria.

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