Saturday 2 – Not Wasps, Not Bees, but Lots of Flies

Being a true summer’s day it was worth looking for insects, especially flies as the various Umbellifers are in full flower and these are especially attractive to a wide range of species. The Umbellifers are species like hogweed, cow parsley, hemlock water dropwort and wild carrot, they all have flat heads of white or creamy flowers made up of hundreds of small flowers. I was not disappointed and saw good numbers of a wide range of species. A lot of hoverflies are black and yellow, making them moderately good wasp mimics and so avoided to some degree by predators. One of the scarcer of these yellow and black specie is Epistrophe diaphana, which is especially yellow.

Epistrophe diaphana

Epistrophe diaphana

Some species look like bumble bees instead of wasps, but I suppose this is likely to work just as well.

Cheilosia illustrata

Cheilosia illustrata

This particular species is a bit unusual in the genus Cheilosia as most species are wholly black and not very hairy. Although all these hoverflies were very good to see they were not really what I was looking for, I was especially seeking soldierflies and particularly some of  the large ones in the genus Stratiomys, there are four species of this genus found in the UK and all are scarce or rare, three of the four have occurred at Farlington Marshes. The larvae of all are aquatic, two favour freshwater habitats and two brackish of increasing saltiness. My first look in the morning produced no joy, but when I went north of the A27 to mow the path after lunch I spotted one of the largest and brightest species Stratiomys potamida, another fly trying to look like a wasp.

Stratiomys potamida

Stratiomys potamida

Mowing and looking for insects do not really go that well together so I was pretty happy with this result. As I headed back to the building I noticed that there were lots of tiny common toad toadlets on the path near Peter’s Pond, a real reminder of Blashford Lakes where swarms of toadlets are such a feature of this time of year.

toadlet

toadlet

Peter’s Pond has its very own show of flowers and these are mostly yellow, including greater spearwort and yellow flag.

yellow flag

yellow flag

The number of flies out and about is also good for the spiders and I came across a few as I looked for flies during the day. the crab spider Misumena vatia is usually very good at matching the colour of the flower it sits upon, but not in this case!

camouflage breakdown

camouflage breakdown

Another, this time I think Enoplognatha ovata had already been successful and was tucking into its meal.

Enoplognatha ovata

Enoplognatha ovata

I then did another circuit of the seawall and checked out the large stand of hemlock water dropwort in the point field, I was looking for another large soldierfly, this one frequents the brackish ditches and is the rarest of the species that is found at Farlington. However despite a good look I had no luck, so I headed on round and near the Lake I spotted something that looked promising on a large wild carrot plant. I took a closer look and found it was what I had been looking for, Stratiomys longicornis, so-called for the long antennae. This is a fly that is trying to look like a honey bee.

Stratiomys longicornis

Stratiomys longicornis

Heading back to the Building my eye was caught by the flowers of a water crowfoot, I say “a water crowfoot” as I am not sure which one as there are several specie sand they are not easy to identify.

crowfoot

crowfoot

 

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