Entomophthora muscae (fly fungus) Stourbridge Common

Life cycle
Soon after a fly dies from infection with this pathogenic fungus, large primary conidia are produced at the apex of a conidiophore which emerge from the intersegmental membranes. When the spores are mature they are forcibly ejected and may fall onto flies resting nearby. If no hosts are available for infection, a smaller secondary conidium may develop. The conidia germinate within a few hours and a germ tube begins to penetrate the insect’s cuticle. Once this reaches the haemocoel, the protoplast flows through the tube and into the fly’s haemolymph. The mycelium of the fungus may grow into an area of the brain that controls the behaviour of the fly, forcing it to land on a surface and crawl upwards. The hyphae gradually grow through the whole of the body, digesting the guts, and the fly dies in about five to seven days.When it is critically ill, it tends to crawl to a high point, straighten its hind legs and open its wings, a behaviour that ensures that the fungal spores are dispersed as widely as possible. Some three hours later, conidiophores start to develop and a new shower of conidia is initiated.

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Cacoxenus indagator (garden)

“Cocoxenus indagator, a ‘fruit fly’ that starves some solitary bees to death

You may see these little ‘fruit flies’ around your red mason bee nest boxes. This feeble flying insect is no fruit fly as a larva. It is a cleptoparasite . They are opportunists and literally hang around watching and waiting. They are looking to sneak into an empty cell, check it out to see if any pollen has been stored. If it has, she will quickly lay some eggs and leave pretty pronto before the host bee returns. The resulting larvae eat the pollen store and in many cases if there are simply too many of them, the bee larva will starve, usually to death. You can find up to ten larvae in one cell.”

Interesting to find it in a Blue mason bee nest

Bibio anglicus (Roman road)

Description
The male of this species is small and black, resembling a small St Mark’s Fly. The female however is largely brick-red with a black head. Bibio anglicus has black hairs on the abdomen and black legs.
Habitat
It can often be seen on the flower heads of umbellifers.
When to see it
It flies in April and May.
Life History
Very short flight period.
UK Status
Fairly frequent and widespread in England…Naturespot

Mating Myopa Hirsuta (Fulbourn Fen)

Mating Myopa hirsuta

Habitat
Often seen on the catkins and flowers that attract solitary spring breeding bees which they are thought to parasitize.
When to see it
Myopa species may emerge as early as April.
Life History
Suspected of parasitizing spring breeding solitary bees.

Gonia picea (Cavenham heath)

Description
A large (10mm), dumpy tachinid fly and typically hairy. The dark abdomen has pale stripes across each segment.
Habitat
Dry to moderately damp meadows.
When to see it
March to June.
Life History
Larva parasitise lepidoptera caterpillars particularly those of the Antler Moth.
UK Status
Mainly found in the south of Britain.

Twin-spot Centurion Soldier Fly (Sargus bipunctatus) Fulbourn Fen NR

Description
This is our largest Sargus (wing length to 10mm). Thorax shiny metallic green, scutellum without spines, veins in the wing quite distinct. The male and female of this species differ considerably in appearance, males are very slim with a metallic green thorax and metallic bronze abdomen (like male Chloromyia formosa but with a much narrower build). Females have a broader build with the base of the abdomen extensively reddish contrasting with a blackish tip bearing blue reflections. Both sexes have orange legs and a pair of whitish spots on the frons just above the antennae.
Habitat
Low vegetation. Adults can be found in a variety of open and wooded habitats, usually sunbathing on foliage in sheltered spots.
When to see it
August to early November.
Life History
The larvae have been reared from cow dung, compost, rotting vegetation and decaying fungi…Nature spot