The Phantom of the Diptera

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 26 June 2015 13:23

Last month I blogged about a survey we are conducting at Malling Down and Southerham and this week we carried out our fourth visit and it was rather good. The highlight was hearing Chris Bentley bellow "DOROS!!!". Not knowing if he had caught it yet, I legged it down into the Green Pits at Malling to find Chris looking very pleased with himself and something large and wasp like flying around inside his net. I've always wanted to see the Phantom Hoverfly Doros profuges as it's one of the few species that has acquired an English name, albeit via the BAP process. It's a cool name none the less. It is genuinely rare and difficult to find and is quite a convincing wasp mimic, even moving like a wasp. Thanks also to Chris for the photo.

However, that was not the rarest find of the survey. I swept a bee that got James and Mike excited and this turned out to be the RDB1 Halictus eurygnathus! This species really is restricted to the chalk around Lewes and Eastbourne and is so poorly known that we were informing the autecology of the species just by sweeping it off plants it's currently not known to nectar on. Also in the Coombe at Malling Down James recorded the Na bee Andrena fulvago. Cistus Foresters and Rose Chafers were also recorded and we were all in agreement that the site couldn't look better with a wide range of structural diversity and nectar being available. Here you can see masses of Common Rock-rose, Dropwort and Bird's-foot Trefoil. Go an have a look this week, it's amazing!!!

Also of note was this larva. It was by far the most abundant larva we were sweeping and was present in all six areas surveyed. The only noctuid moth I could ever remember seeing up there in any numbers was Dusky Sallow. A quick Google search and we soon realised this was indeed the larva of Dusky Sallow. Another tiny piece of the infinitely large jigsaw puzzle added!

1 Response to "The Phantom of the Diptera"

Ian Doyle Says:

Nice shots Graeme.

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