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…

Fighting over a dead frog!

It was a hot day in northern Thailand when spotted an attractive Red Lacewing butterfly and started following it, hoping it would settle down so that I could get some decent photos. Eventually, it did land and I started creeping up on it, gradually getting closer and closer. It took me a little while to…

Decomposition of a mole

I came across a dead mole as I was walking along a logging tract in a pine forest in Galicia, northern Spain. It looked as though it had only just died, as the first wave of colonisation – by  blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) – was only just in progress. Green bottle flies (probably Lucilia sericata) were already…

Canoodling bee-grabbers

These remarkable flies, known as Thick-headed Flies (Conopidae), are larval parasitoids of bees and wasps. Females of this species, Conops quadrifasciatus, attack bumblebees in flight, which has earned them the name ‘bee-grabbers’. Apparently, they grab the poor bee, and use a specialised pad-like structure at the end of their abdomen (called a theca) to prise apart the bee and implant…

Black-rimmed snout hoverfly: the Heineken Fly!

The Black-rimmed snout hoverfly, Rhingia campestris Meigen, 1822 (Diptera: Syrphidae) is a common and widespread fly which is often seen visiting flowers or resting on nearby vegetation. The larvae live and develop in cow dung, whilst the adults feed on nectar and pollen. Pollen is required by the females as a protein source for egg development;…

Bee-flies: the dipteran narwhals

I always enjoy seeing bombyliids (bee-flies). They sound like little helicopters, hovering and buzzing about, and their furry appearance gives them a certain cuteness. They are flies pretending to be bees! Not the easiest of insects to identify from photographs though. This one looks rather like Bombylius posticus, which has a wide Palaearctic distribution, but I am not…

Tachina grossa – a big black fly!

The Yellow-faced fly or giant tachinid fly, Tachina grossa, is the largest European tachinid fly, between 1.5 and 2 cm in length. It is widespread in Europe, including the British Isles and is supposed to be a bumblebee mimic, but I am not sure which one it is copying. Probably an imperfect mimic of generally dark bumblebees.…