Friday, 31 July 2015

A present from the in-laws

What is the most bizarre gift that have been given by your in-laws? I suspect that you have not been given a fly, particularly a large horsefly. However, this was my gift from my mother-in-law this afternoon. Jennifer had seen the fly on her patio window and rushed to get a pot, duly caught it and gave it to Jo to pass on. Whilst many people may not know quite how to take their mother-in-law presenting them with a horseefly, I was of course absolutely delighted. Especially as it is a species I have not identified before.

This is a Large Marsh Horsefly Tabanus autumnalis, a large species of biting horsefly (making it quite a specialist gift for someone). As well as the large size, this species shows three pale triangle markings on each of the abdominal segments. A quick look on the NBN shows that this would be a new record for the tetrad where Jennifers house is. If you think you can do better, Jo was once given a pot containing Japanese Knotweed for her garden from her last mother-in-law, which I suspect will take some beating.

Large Marsh Horsefly Tabanus autumnalis

Large Marsh Horsefly Tabanus autumnalis

Following the horsefly-related excitement of lunchtime, I had a more relaxed walk around the garden this evening. One of my targets was to find some wasps to look at and identify. The most familiar social wasps (the large yellow and black ones) are in fact quite an identification challenge. Whilst most people will think there is only one species of wasp in the UK, there are of course several different species. The two main families of what people would think of as a wasp are the Dolichovespula and Vespula, both of which contain four species of yellow and black wasps, which are best identified by reference to the fine details of the face pattern, with the size of the cheeks helping to seperate the two families. I managed to find a wasp settled on a Buddleia leaf, and after checking with my reference book, was happy to identify it as a Tree Wasp Dolichovespula sylvestris. The main features are the long cheeks (to place it in the Dolichovespula family), the yellow face with a small black spot and yellow base to the antennae.

Tree Wasp Dolichovespula sylvestris

Tree Wasp Dolichovespula sylvestris

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