The Diptera comprise the most ecologically diverse order of insects, with the AMNH collection containing approximately 1.4 million specimens, including the primary types of 3,462 species as of 2009. Collection strengths reflect the research interests of present and past staff researchers. William Beutenmuller was the first staff entomologist, who worked primarily on Lepidoptera but was also interested in the Cecidomyiidae and their galls. The Diptera collection largely developed under Charles Howard Curran (1894-1972), who was the first AMNH Diptera specialist. Curran described 2,648 Diptera species in 62 families, primarily between the years 1921 and 1947. His main interests were in Syrphidae, Tachnidae, and Asilidae, which are collections of global scope at the AMNH. Upon Curran's retirement in 1960, Diptera were curated by Paul H. Arnaud, Jr., who was an AMNH Research Fellow from 1961-1962. Pedro Wygodzinsky became the next curator of Diptera when he joined the staff in 1962. Though his interests were primarily in the apterygote hexapods and Heteroptera, he collaborated on research of South American blackflies (Simuliidae), culminating in four monographs. F. C. Thompson, a syrphid specialist who is now retired from the USDA-SEL at the Smithsonian, was another Research Fellow at the AMNH in the early 1970s. David Grimaldi has been curator of Diptera from 1986 to the present. His interests are broadly in insect evolution, particularly amber and fossil arthropod inclusions as well as species-level systematics of various fly groups, particularly acalyptrates and especially the Drosophilidae. Though Australia and Africa are weakly represented, the drosophilid collection is almost worldwide in scope, with strongest holdings from the New World, Asia, and the Pacific. As of 2009 Grimaldi has authored and coauthored 175 publications, among the more significant being several monographs on Drosophilidae (Phylogenetics and taxonomy of Zygothrica; A phylogenetic, revised classification of genera in the Drosophilidae; Monograph on the spittlebug flies, genus Cladochaeta ), and the book Evolution of the Insects (Cambridge, 2005).
Curator-in-Charge: Dr. David Grimaldi
Collections Assistant : Lesley Thayer