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Paul Leyland – Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast

If you read Erica McAlister’s recent blog here, about her love of flies, you will know now, if you didn’t before, their diversity and their importance in our ecosystems. I am a fairly recent convert to the love of flies and if there is a fly equivalent of a birder then I have probably become one. With over 7000 species on the British list, if only 5% can be identified with a photograph, there are a lot to aim for. Here are two striking ones at the opposite ends of the beauty spectrum, which would be worth looking out for.

The beauty is Chrysotoxum festivum, a wasp mimicking hoverfly. A medium sized fly with a wing length of up to 12mm. A fantastically marked fly. It really stands out when seen on a flower, a great pollinator. Seen in summer, can occur as far north as Scotland but most populous in southern England and Wales.

The beast is Tachina grossa, or Giant Tachinid Fly. This is one of the largest flies around and can reach a length of 19mm. Easily identified by its size, black spiky body, yellow head and brown eyes. The female lays her eggs on other live insect larva, the fly larvae then develop inside the living host, eating it and eventually killing it. It occurs throughout the UK and flies from late June until September.

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