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Monday, 3 August 2015

A happy fly, in summer's play...

(from DWT press release)

A fly thought to have been extinct for almost 150 years has been found alive and well and living in Exeter, at DWT's Old Sludge Beds nature reserve on the southern edge of the city.

The last known and only other record of the Rhaphium pectinatum fly was on 19 July 1868, when the renowned Victorian entomologist George Verrall caught a male and female in Richmond, Surrey. 

The re-discovery was made by Devon naturalist Rob Wolton. “I took a recent trip to Devon Wildlife Trust’s Old Sludge Beds nature reserve on the outskirts of Exeter specifically to look for flies. I examined my catch that evening to find it included a fly that was presumed extinct in Britain, not having been seen for 147 years. Definitely one to add to the list of Devon specialities.”
photo: Rob Wolton

The metallic green fly is in the Family Dolichopodidae, known colloquially as 'long-legged flies'. Most members of the family live in tropical areas of the world. 

“Nothing is known about its biology, but it seems that it may like brackish conditions like those found at the Old Sludge Beds, and may even be associated with the extensive tidal reed beds nearby at the head of the Exe estuary,” said Rob.

The Old Sludge Beds have been a DWT reserve since 1979 and adjoin DWT's Exe Reed Beds reserve.

On a recent visit there I saw this handsome bug, Deraeocoris ruber. Is it feeding on the ladybird pupa?


Things which really work 2

14 years in the making....

First fashioned from a modified birdbox in 2001, adding canes of old Japanese knotweed and bamboo, not finished until some 14 years later this May, then put up on a wall at the rear of the garden (SW facing). After which Red mason bee Osmia bicornis started moving in after about a day.



Following advice and the findings of the BUGS project in Sheffield (www.bugs.group.shef.ac.uk/BUGS1/sources/bugs-reprint2.pdf), a mixture of cane sizes with different diameters were used. A key factor seems to be to place in full sunshine, so fixed on a south facing wall or fence. Through the months, various other species have taken up residence. The plugs of mud, capping the end of the brood chambers, are the work of Osmia bicornis, and the plugs of chewed-up vegetation are from Osmia leaiana or Blue mason bee Osmia caerulescens.

A shop-bought one has been lying around the garden so I put that up too; this took slightly longer to be found and colonised, but both have been successful.
For a lovely 15 min video about some garden solitary bees, check out https://vimeo.com/129712987