Flies and flowers

Bees get a lot of good press these days, especially for their role as pollinators. And let’s face it, they deserve it! Hard working, unassuming, attractive and useful! They are almost supplanting those poster boys and girls of the insect world: butterflies! But what about flies? Their press is a mixed bag. To some people…

Seaweed flies

The equinoctial gales washed up lots of nice kelp onto the beaches of Scarborough this year (below). The piles of seaweed were gradually pushed up the beach by the incoming tides, eventually accumulating beyond the strand-line, where it slowly decays and eventually dries out. This gift from the sea is a wonderful bounty which is…

Flies blowing bubbles

The first time I saw a fly with a droplet of water protruding from it’s mouth (or the tip of the proboscis) I was quite surprised. Why would a fly be blowing bubbles like this? It turns out that flies do this to cool down!  They move a droplet of fluid in and out and…

Just a bunch of weeds? Birds and bees on the slopes of the Futurist site, Scarborough

This site was created following the demolition of the old Futurist theatre on Scarborough seafront.  Demolition of the building began in June 2018 and was completed in August 2018. A process called ‘slope stabilisation’ created an area of sloping ground (below) which, in this year of lockdown, has filled up with wild flowers. Some might…

A courtship duet: Drosophila melanogaster

  In this blog, I have delved into the voluminous research on the common fruit fly, or vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and tried to produce a readable, hopefully entertaining, fly-level perspective, of their courtship behaviour. I am not an expert on this species, but I have immersed myself in the literature whilst researching a book…

The tiny brain of a fly!

Some people may have seen the image of a fruit fly brain published last month (January 2020), by C. Shan Xu, and a large number of coworkers, and picked up by many media outlets. The ‘map’ or 3-D graphic (see below) was compiled by a team of scientists, called FlyEM, from the company Google, and…

Musings on a syrphid

You have to be a pretty good photographer – well phenomenally good actually! – to try and identify this species of hoverfly via a photograph (Syrphus sp. maybe S. ribesii). The reason being, that there are three very similar species in the UK, which really need a microscope in order to separate them! But maybe…