New species of flies found in Lochaber forest
Two insect species never before seen in the UK have been discovered in a forest in Lochaber.
The two male fungus gnats were caught along with tens of thousands of insects in a special trap in 2018.
They were identified by Ian Strachan after he carefully sifted through the specimens.
The species - Boletina gusakovae and Mycetophila idonea - are usually found in parts of continental Europe and were trapped at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest.
Mr Strachan said: "My guess is that these two have always been here, or at least for a long time, but just not found before."
Woodland Trust Scotland, which manages the forest, said Boletina gusakovae is usually found in Finland and Russia and Mycetophila idonea in Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Georgia and Luxembourg.
Mr Strachan spotted the two species among more than 1,500 fungus gnats he had separated out from tens of thousands of other insects in the sample.
Fungus gnats are a large group of tiny flies whose larvae feed on mushrooms and fungi.
Mr Strachan said: "This was a very exciting find. It makes all the hours of sorting seem worthwhile."
The Roybridge-based expert has sorted through some 20,000 specimens from the Loch Arkaig traps so far - using a binocular microscope as most are less than 1mm in size.
A considerable number of specimens remain to be sorted or identified.
"It is a very laborious process. It could be several years before all the species are identified - but I am determined to get as many as possible done," said Mr Strachan.