Monday, 24 February 2014

More On Picture Winged Flies

My previous blog mentioned a couple of picture winged flies that I had beaten from conifers. A few days later Mike Killeby gave me some flies that he had beaten from a yew in Yardley Gobion churchyard in January. Amongst the specimens were two more picture winged flies from the Tephritidae family: Tephritis formosa and T. hyoscami. Below are some examples of this attractive genus.

Pictured from left to right are: Tephritis formosa, T. vespertina, T. hyoscami and T. matricariae.

Their main host plants respectively are: sow-thistles, cat's ears, welted thistle and mayweeds where they form galls in the flower heads. If you want to find out more about these flies there is an RES handbook to the Tephritidae by I. White and an excellently illustrated book in Dutch by John Smit.

Apart from the Tephritid flies, Mike also found a Muscid fly (house flies and relatives) Eudasyphora cyanella, which is bright metallic green so could be mistaken for a greenbottle. Also he caught a cluster fly Pollenia griseotomentosa, a wood gnat Sylvicola cinctus and a couple of frit flies, Chloropidae, for which I do not have a key.

Today I saw my first hoverfly of the year in my garden. It was the drone fly Eristalis tenax. This is usually my first hoverfly of the year. As the sallows start to flower in March a few species of hoverfly should be on the wing.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Early February 2014

After a couple of months of doing admin and identifications, I managed a little fieldwork today (6/2/2014). The recent gales had toppled some Scots Pine trees in Denton Wood and I took the opportunity to beat the still-green leaves to see if any insects would fall out. I struck lucky and two picture-winged flies fell into my tray. At first I thought they were the same species but examination under the microscope showed clear differences. The first was Tephritis neesii, a species I have recorded earlier this winter. The second was Tephritis vespertina, which I have never seen before. It has very distinctive wing markings, with a broad dark V mark spanning a small white apex to the wing and vague dark markings between the anal veins. Both specimens were males. 

I have also two other species of fly from a Spruce but they are both Frit Flies Chloropidae, and I do not have a key for these at present. I have retained the vouchers so if anyone does have a key and wants to identify them, they are available.

I then tried beating some standing spruces but did not find any flies. However I did find a larch ladybird,  Aphidecta obliterata.