Sunday, 20 May 2012

St Mark's Fly

Did you notice large numbers of these black flies drifting about in recent weeks?  They are black and clumsy with long, trailing hind legs.

Photo by Kent Ornithological Society
The males have clear wings and big eyes.  They swarm up and down looking for females which usually cluster on a nearby bush.  They are called St Mark's Flies because they're usually about on St Mark's Day, 25th April.  They only live for about a fortnight so most of them have gone now.  It's a short life but sweet.  They feed on nectar, they mate and the females lay eggs in the soil.  That's it.  Then they die.  But the larvae or grubs live on, underground, eating decaying vegetable material or grass roots.  Then next April they emerge as adults and the whole life cycle starts over again.

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