Dotted Bee-fly Bombus discolor

We are seeing Dotted Bee-flies around in Worcestershire this spring, with several records from the Wyre Forest area, and wonder if this is undergoing a range expansion. To distinguish this species from the more frequently recorded Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major, wait until the fly has settled and look carefully for dots on the wings. The black hairs at the end of the abdomen are conspicuous even in flight. I have found this fly less easy to approach for photography than the obliging Dark-edged Bee-fly.

Dotted Bee-fly Bombylius discolor, Bliss Gate, 6 April 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Dark-edged Bee-fly Bombylius major, Dick Brook, 7 April 2010 ©Rosemary Winnall


Little Black Puddings (Dasineura pteridis)

These galls are commonly found on Bracken in the summer and autumn. They are caused by the larvae of a Cecidomyiid gall midge which cause these black, shiny, and rolled swellings to occur on the fronds. The mature larvae leave the galls to pupate in the soil, and there are two generations a year.

Little Black Pudding galls, Dasineura pteridis, Wimperhill, 6 September 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Non-biting Midge Chironomid larvae

The adult flies in the family Chironomidae (the non-biting midges), look a little like mosquitoes, and their larvae are aquatic or semi-aquatic. Some of these are bright red and commonly called bloodworms due to the presence of haemoglobin in their circulatory fluid so that they can carry oxygen which enables then to live in polluted water in almost anaerobic conditions. Some build tubes underwater from a mixture of mud and saliva, and these can be seen in Wyre during the summer, especially where the puddles are drying out. A few of these tubes placed in an aquarium have provided views of the bloodworms inside the tubes, and repairing those that were damaged.

Chironomid bloodworm larvae tubes, Wyre Forest, 18 June 2015 ©Rosemary Winnall

Chironomid bloodworm larvae tubes, Wyre Forest. 18 June 2015 ©Rosemary Winnall

Chironomid bloodworm larvae repairing damaged tubes, from Wyre Forest 18 June 2015

Tanyptera atrata ovipositing

This large and impressive cranefly was seen ovipositing on a rotting wood pile in Wyre. The female spent some time searching for the right place to lay, and was observed inserting her abdomen deep inside a crack in the wood as seen here. A male was also spotted nearby.

Tanyptera atrata female ovipositing in dead wood, 18th May 2014

Atherix ibis, Yellow-legged Water-Snipefly

A walk on the west side of the River Severn yesterday near the Bewdley bypass resulted in the find of two female Yellow-legged Water-Snipeflies (Atherix ibis). They are impressive flies with their mottled wings and they have interesting breeding behaviour. The females gather together in dense clusters on branches overhanging water where they lay their eggs in a glutinous matrix before dying. The result is a mass of eggs and dead flies suspended from twigs or flood debris.

Atherix ibis, female Yellow-legged Water-Snipefly

Midge Gall Macrodiplosis pustularis

Whilst in Cleobury Coppice on 5th September 2012, we found a number of galls on the oak trees, including this one. The tip of the leaf gall was turned down and had browned even though the leaf was still green. It was empty and the single larva which had spent the summer inside the gall, had presumably dropped out to pupate on the ground.