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The genus Eremomidas contains five species, one of which is found in Arabia (Dikow, 2010). Eremomidas arabicus was only recently recorded to occur in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), however, specimens had been collected and stored in the Joint Al Ain and Abu Dhabi Insect Collection of the Emirates Natural History Group (JAAENHG) for more than 20 years (Howarth & Gillett, 2009) before being formally identified by Torsten Dikow in 2010. In fact, when Dikow was pulling together a chapter for Volume 3, Arthropod Fauna of the United Arab Emirates (edited by Tony van Harten), Brigitte Howarth (curator and custodian of the JAAENHG) sent a specimen from the collection to him. This specimen represented the earliest record of the presence of this species from the UAE, collected in 1979 by the founder of the ENHG, Bish Brown.

In 2010 Brigitte Howarth photographed E. arabicus in sand dunes on the outskirts of Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. The individual depicted in the photographs is a gravid female, looking for a suitable ovipositing site. Little is known about the habitat niche of this fly but the observations of egg laying indicate that the egg, larval and pupal stage are spent in the sand, before emerging as an adult. In the United States, a mydas fly commonly called the 'Delhi Sands flower-loving fly' (Rhaphiomidas terminatus abdominalis) a species of Mydidae known to occur in ancient sand dune systems bordering on extinction was given conservation status 'endangered' in 1993 (US Fish and Wildlife Publication, 1993) due to the destruction of 97% of its habitat range. In 1997 a recovery plan was published to ensure its return from the brink of extinction (US Fish and Wildlife Publication, 1997). E. arabicus has been found in ancient dune systems in the UAE and these are rapidly being lost to development. Much like the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly, E. arabicus could be an indicator species for ancient sand dune systems, and much like its American counterpart, it may very well be highly endangered.


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© Brigitte Howarth, Emirates Natural History Group/Zayed University

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