Flanders Moss NNR
Oops, turns out this isn’t a Noon Fly but a Great Tachinid Fly – one of the largest fly species in Europe. See more info on this blog tomorrow.
There are some spectacular insects out there at the moment. This is one, a Noon Fly (Mesembrina meridina), I found last week on Flanders. It is huge and was bumbling and buzzing around in the bog hummocks like a bumble bee from hell and really quite impressive when you get close-up. But as ever with these creatures things really get interesting when you start to find out about their life-cycle.
These insects go from one extreme to the other by spending their lives with a mixture of being deep in poo to cruising around flowers.
The females start off by laying their eggs on cow pats. But rather than just scattering eggs about the females develop the eggs inside them so that the eggs hatch to larva either as they are laid or with an hour of being laid. This is a tactic to give their young a head start in life but because they have to carry around developing eggs inside them they only lay up to 5 individual eggs. Once the larva are in the cowpats they are carnivorous and roam around munching on any other larva they find in the pats. But as adults they eat pollen and nectar from flowers, a nice contrast to their younger days. But they never can quite escape the poo as they tend to meet their partners on cowpats and mate on them.
There are actually a large number of insects that use animal dung as part of the lives and species like some species of bats tend to be found in areas of large grazing animals as they need this insect life to feed on. But cowpats are becoming less hospitable to this insect community because of parasite treatments to farm animals which results in the chemicals going through the animals and concentrating in the droppings so affecting the insect poo population. As ever the full consequences of a management action are rarely known until the detrimental effects are seen.