Life On The Job

Life on the Job

Entomologist - Dr Bryan Lessard aka The Fly Guy


Bryan examing
(Source: Brytheflyguy)


Dr Bryan Lessard (a.k.a. Bry the Fly Guy) discovered the curious world of flies as an under­graduate, learning about maggots and their uses in medicine and solving crime.

He has discovered more than 150 species new to science and has officially named 30 species from Australia and New Zealand, most famously Plinthina beyonceae, the horse fly with a golden abdomen named after Beyoncé. This Australian species quickly became a bootylicious ambas­sador for biodiversity and sparked a global conversation about the importance of naming species.

His research takes him to all corners of the world to discover and document new species of insects. His favourite collecting spots include the stunning tropical rainforests of Queensland, Australia, the pristine mountains of Lord Howe Island, and the ancient nothofagus forests of Chile. By collecting fresh specimens, he can analyse their DNA to confirm the identity of new species and see where they sit in the fly tree of life.

Bryan now works as a Postdoctoral Fellow at CSIRO’s Aus­tralian National Insect Collection, researching the evolution and classification of soldier flies (Stratiomyidae), most famous for the black soldier fly Hermetia illucens that powers compost bins and could become the super­food of the 21st century. He also shares his passion for flies and biodiversity with the world through speaking events, traditional and social media, and television. Bryan was an invited speaker at TEDx Canberra in 2016, presented "Bry the Fly Guy's Top 5" biodiversity countdown on ABC Evenings Radio with Chris Bath, and has made appearances on Gardening Australia, Totally Wild, Scope TV and The Project. Follow Bry the Fly Guy on social media to get a behind-the-scenes look at his scientific adventures! (Source: Brytheflyguy)


Bachelor of Biotechnology (Advance) Honours I
University of Wollongong (2005-2008)

Doctor of Philosophy (Entomology)
Australian National University (2009-2013)

Employment & Training

Current Roles

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Revision and classification of the Australian mosquitoes

Research and Curation Team
Australian National Insect Collection

National Research Collections Australia
Professional Experiences

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
CSIRO: Revision and classification of the Australian soldier flies

Associate Editor

Scientific consultant for small to medium sized enterprise
Goterra, Australia's largest commercial insect farm

Visiting Fellow (Lecturer)
Australian National University

Science Inquiry Workshop
CSIRO Discovery
Achievements and Awards

Winner of the ACT Tall Poppy of The Year Award
Australian Institute of Policy and Science

Member of the Australian Science Superheroes
Australia’s Chief Scientist

Winner of the Early Career Research Excellence Award
Society of Australian Systematic Biologists

TEDx Talk
TEDx Canberra

Winner of the Council of Heads of Australian Entomological Collections Speaker Prize
Australian Entomological Society

Winner of the Presidential Prize for Best Presentation
Entomological Society of America (Source: CSIRO)
Bryan Lessard


Did You Know?

Dr Lessard achieved worldwide notoriety in 2011 when he named a variety of horse fly after singer Beyoncé. The moment he found Plinthina beyonceae is one he won’t forget.

During his PhD research he became an expert on horse flies. On this occasion, he pulled open a drawer of unidentified fly specimens at the Australian National Insect Collection and “the bright shining golden abdomen caught my eye”.

I immediately recognised it was one of my flies, but it didn’t look like any of the species in my group. So I took the specimens out and compared them … and realised it was completely new,” he says.

At the time, there were only three specimens in Australian museums. That was the exact same number of members of [Beyonce’s former girl band] Destiny’s Child. And the specimens were originally collected in 1981, which was the birth year of Beyoncé as well.

“I thought, what better way to generate a bit of interest about taxonomy than naming it after the bootylicious Beyoncé,
” he laughs, adding: “I did not know it’d become a viral sensation.”

Beyonce and horse fly

The Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae fly, which is found in far north Queensland, sports a spectacular gold patch on its abdomen which CSIRO insect expert Bryan Lessard says makes it the "all-time diva of flies".

"It was the unique dense golden hairs on the fly’s abdomen that led me to name this fly in honour of the performer Beyonce as well as giving me the chance to demonstrate the fun side of taxonomy – the naming of species," Mr Lessard said in a statement released on the CSIRO blog.

The rare Scaptia plinthina horse fly was collected in 1981 from the Atherton Tablelands, west of Cairns, the year the former Destiny's Child singer was born.

"Most Australian Scaptia species have been described, however these five new species of a sub-group [plinthina] have been housed in Australian collections since the group was last studied in the 1960s," Mr Lessard said.

"Although often considered a pest, many species of horse fly are extremely important pollinators of many plants.

"Horse flies act like hummingbirds during the day, drinking nectar from their favourite varieties of grevillea, tea trees and eucalypts."

(Source: ABC News 13 January 2012)

The Conversation 19 January 2012  Beyonce is a fly... but why?

The Conversation

15 September 2021

Another fly named after a celebrity by Bryan Lessard

RuPaul and Queensland Soldier Fly
American drag queen RuPaul and Queensland soldier fly species Opaluma RuPaul.
(Source: ABC News)

RuPaul Andre Charles – the 'Glamazon' of television series RuPaul's Drag Race – once said, "I believe in using all the colours in the crayon box."

RuPaul's iconic quotes and glitzy gowns have since inspired CSIRO researchers to name a soldier fly after the performer, due to the unique iridescent colours.

Just one of 150 species to receive celebrity status in the past year – the Opaluma RuPaul hails from Lamington National Park in Queensland, which suffered extensive fire damage in 2019-20.

"I wanted to do something quite spectacular," CSIRO entomologist Dr Bryan Lessard said. "I think this fly can give RuPaul a run for her money on the runway because it's got legs for days and this glamazon look to it"

Dr Lessard said naming species was key to protecting them, while attracting the attention of citizen scientists and policy makers tasked with the bushfire recovery efforts.

"I've worked with conservation scientists to formally list them as endangered species – they're some of the first flies in Australia to actually get this listing," Dr Lessard said.

"That allows citizen scientists, conservation scientists and even policy makers to go out there and protect them so we can enjoy them for future generations.

Soldier fly named after drag queen RuPaul | ABC News


Bryan Lessard - Bry the Fly Guy


CSIRO - Staff Profile


Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC)

My Garden Path - Gardening Australia 3 June 2017 Video

My Garden Path

Australia's Chief Scientist: Australian Science Superheroes - Bryan Lessard

Chief Scientist
ABC Sunday Brunch -
Insects are the food of the future 18 March 2018


ABC - Myf Warhurst 11 September 2019

ABC News 2 October 2017

ABC News
ABC Evenings 9 March 2017

ABC Dr Karl 17 August 2017

Insectarium of Victoria

Insectarium Victoria

To investigate the taxonomy of insects further, go to: Insectarium of Victoria
NB You need to dig a bit into the website to find the information.

Australian Museum - Insects

Australian Museum
Articles in The Conversation by Dr Bryan Lessard
The Conversation 29 April 2021

The Conversation

In Spanish
The Conversation 4 August 2020

The Conversation
The Conversation 18 December 2018

The Conversation

The Conversation 22 October 2018

The Conversation
The Conversation 6 March 2018

The Conversation
The Conversation 7 February 2018

The Conversation
The Conversation 1 December 2016

The Conversation
The Conversation 2 September 2016

The Conversation

YouTube: Beauty in the Beast: why we should appreciate the humble fly | Bryan Lessard | TEDxCanberra




The Science of Classification: Taxonomy

PrimaryPrimary  MiddleMiddle High SchoolSecondary

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy



Here is a collection of 6 Activities on the Science of Classification assembled by Frances Moore.


Mosquitoes & BTN

MiddleMiddle High SchoolSecondary

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

LiteracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Literacy

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Cooperative LearningCooperative Learning Activity


1. In groups of 3 - 4 students, read about Dr Bryan Lessard and his research on classifying Mosquitoes. The Conversation 18 December 2018 Reading


The Conversation

2. Using the information contained within this article, you are to create a new BTN segment for younger students to understand this work.

You need to go and look at the latest BTN episode. Most episodes are short 4 minutes long or less.


As a group, work out how each episode is presented. What does BTN do to engage students? How fast paced is it? What graphics do they show? What video clips?

3. To make a BTN episode, you will need to divide into roles:

a. Presenter

b. Researcher/Dr Bryan Lessard

c. Video creator

d. Interviewer

4. Mindmap the information using one of the online mindmapping apps listed here.

5. Based on the information,

  • create the introduction piece by the Presenter; and, also the conclusion

  • create the questions to be asked by the interviewer to Dr Bryan Lessard;

  • discover what images the Researcher/Dr Bryan Lessard would like to display during the videotaping

5. If you are the Video creator, you are to video insects in your backyard to be placed within the interview.

6. Pull it altogether into one BTN 3 - 4 minute segment.

7. Reflection


What did you learn while creating a BTN segment? Share with your group.



Your digital collection

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary

Personal and social capability
Australian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and social capability

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

NumeracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Numeracy


1. You are individually going to start a digital collection of insects by photographing different species while on the way to school, at school in the school grounds, on weekend hikes, at the skate park, or just messing about in your backyard.

Start by using your mobile's camera to hone in on any species of insects in your backyard. Try to take multiple copies at different angles as this will help you identify the insect later on.

2. Create an Excel database with a folder for your photographs and a description of the insect you have observed. You will also need columns for when (date and time of day) and where you saw this insect.

3. Have a look and explore the Atlas of Living Australia. There is a very interesting area called Explore your area where you can put in your street name and suburb and it tells you about the species that live near you.

Atlas of Living Australia

4. Check your identification by looking at the CSIRO's Insects and their Allies site.


"This site has been developed for those who are interested in insects and their close relatives but have only basic knowledge of them. The main aim of this site is to provide an understanding of the different types of invertebrates, their Classification and anatomy, allowing a person to become familiar with those that are more common or conspicuous. The site includes an overview of the biology, ecology and life cycle of all 26 orders of true insects found in Australia as well as other groups of invertebrates likely to be encountered. Further distinction, to family level within some groups is also provided as well as photographs or drawings of representative species."

5. Once you have started making observations, become a Citizen Scientist by recording your observations and sharing them on iNaturalist Australia which then contributes to the Atlas of Living Australia. As Dr Bryan says "You never know what new species you might find in your own backyard!"





Environmental Scientist

Want to learn more about Mosquitoes and Microbats? go to Environmental Scientist and look at the two activities there:


1. Create a VoiceThread around the relationship between Mosquitoes and Bats

2. Debate: Should we get rid of "pesty" Mosquitoes?


Material sourced from




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