The mosquitoes have always influenced the life of mankind since the early stage of evolution. Malaria is still one of the most destructive diseases on Earth, particularly in tropical countries. In addition, these flies can spread other serious diseases such as the yellow fever the dengue-fever or the microfilaria.
Eradication of malaria from Hungary was significantly due to regulation introduced by Ferenc Mihályi, the former curator of the Diptera Collection. Although we are aware of only cases of the last 50 years when the malaria was brought in our country by foreigners, experts maintain that hazard of the re-colonization of malaria is possible. Still many pathogens of different diseases of our pets are spread by mosquitoes. Unfortunately, the number of infections are increasing for instance West Nile virus is wide prevalent in our country, which is not only dangerous for domestic animals and wild birds but also for people sometimes causing death. Mosquitoes are basically unpleasant, even if they do not spreading pathogens. To use modern environmentally harmless mosquito control, we have to know not only the place of the breading sites, but also the species and the age of the larvae as well.
Summer diarrhea epidemics
Ferenc Mihályi – mostly by research he did in the 1960s, clarified the role of flies in the outbreak of summer diarrhea epidemics. He established a reference collection for the numerous possible species and gave useful advice for medical practice. Due to sanitation levels of today, the infection by these flies is decreasing, however, it still occurs.
Animal husbandary/ Livestock breeding /animal cultivation
The Department of Zoology has participated in solving dipteran problems of Animal husbandary/ Livestock breeding. While these flies develop in the dung on cow, horse or sheep pasturelands, they are also key factors of the decomposition of the dung. Exploration of the dipteran species composition and elaboration of a reasonable biological protection strategies that consider the role of both adults and imagos were possible only by thorough morphological and taxonomical research establishing comparative fly collections
The book that helps the identification of larvae and imagos of botflies – which are parasitic flies developing in the mouth and stomach of horses (Gasterophilidae), nasal cavity and pharynx of sheep, cows and horses (Oestridae) – and of warble flies, which cause ulcers under the skin of cows and deer, is also written by our department. It is not widely known that there are special fly species (descendants of scavengers) larvae which feed on living tissue of domestic or wild animals; sometimes tissues of humans Research of myiasis began in the Department of Zoology, now it takes place in the Department of Parasitology and Zoology at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Szent István University.
Crop production (cultivation)/ Plan cultivation
Crop cultivation has to face up to numerous fly pests. Our comparative collections of fruit flies, leaf-miner flies, grass flies and other pest flies are appropriate for identification. We have been involved in the exploration of the biology of many such species and we monitor the so-called quarantine pests which are not present in our country yet but have an increasing possibility to appear and cause problems. Our duty is to establish their comparative collections, to prepare for species-level identification and to collect all information on these species.
Model species for the genetics
A large part of genetics knowledge we have is in connection with flies referring to the genetic, morphological etc. researches done on the common fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) and other species. The science of invertebrate physiology gained most of the information also from flies. We provide scientific research mentioned above with background information.
Help in solving homicide cases
Modern criminology also uses dipterology. Identification of species and age of larvae found on a dead body helps to determine the time and circumstances of death. Comparative collections of such species are available in our Department.
Useful and protected diptera species
Not all Diptera species are harmful. Larvae of numerous species have a role of decomposing organic materials such as fallen leaves, dung, carcasses, etc.., while other species are important as pollinators. In our institute we have started to research rare species which could be interesting and valuable from an environmental protection point of view. So far, only one indigenous species, the European stalk-eyed fly (Sphyracephalaeuropaea), that was described by our own researchers, is on the lists of protected animals.
Diptera in human medicine
We can read about curing open wounds by sterile larvae (mostly by blow-flies – Calliphoridae), more and more frequently in international medical literature. Young larvae feed on dead tissue and pus that impede the healing. Although the sight of larvae on wounds might seem to be bizarre, their better efficiency is undeniable. As a matter of fact, in some cases (e.g. diabetes) this is the only way to heal the wounds. .
What are old collections good for?
Rich insect collections are very useful for ecological investigations that aim the composition and operation of species-rich animal communities. Although this research does not result in direct practical use, they still change our approach to environmental protection. A well-organized collection is not only important because it gives a base of species determination and identification but by the so call “proof material” it enables subsequent supervision of the published results. Label data of the old collection material may give important information about the distribution, frequency etc. of endangered species.