Collecting Novakia Strobl (Mycetophilidae)

Distribution: Fungus gnats of the genus Novakia are found in mountain ranges of southern Europe and the Meditteranean, and in the USA (California).

Collecting Methods: The best way to collect of Novakia specimens is by using a Malaise trap, a type of flight intercept trap that is exceptionally efficient at collecting flies and wasps.

Although rarely collected, Novakia individuals are not necessarily rare. In places like Calaveras Big Trees State Park, California, for instance, they are quite common in Malaise trap samples. Undoubtedly they also occur in areas of California that are not frequently collected and may extend northward into Oregon, Washington, and perhaps as far as British Columbia (Novakia miloi) and southward into Mexico (Novakia lisae). Active collecting is needed throughout the major mountain ranges of California and neighboring regions to piece together more accurate range maps for these species (and for many other Mycetophilidae).

Field Observations: The biology of Novakia is still unknown. Therefore, if an alive individual is recognized in the field, careful observation of its natural habits is of great value. Most Mycetophilidae are associated with basidiomycete fruiting bodies (= mushrooms) and this is also likely to be true for Novakia. Any mushrooms observed to be in physical contact with Novakia individuals should be photographed and collected for later identification. It is important to keep in mind that not all mycetophilids are exclusively associated with mushrooms, however. Some are associated with decaying wood, while others have been found in the nests of birds and mammals (probably as detritivores).

6-meter Malaise trap, Grover Hot Springs State Park.

Townes trap (a type of Malaise trap), Grover Hot Springs State Park.

6-meter Malaise trap, Grover Hot Springs State Park. This trap was torn to bits by a bear later in the season.

Malaise trap along path of old logging road, South Grove, Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

North Grove, Calaveras Big Trees State Park.