St. Marks Fly 01 (Bibio marci)
Photographed on the Friday 01 May 2015.
St Marks Fly (Bibio marci) also often referred too as the Hawthorn Fly often emerge around St Mark’s day, hence their name. They are true flies and belong to the Class Insecta, Order Diptera, Family Bibionidae and Genus Bibio. They can be found in many habitats such as the coastal grey dunes here on Merseyside but more usually associated with woodland edges, hedges, grasslands and wetlands.
Male St. Mark’s flies are around 12mm in length with clear wings, large eyes and long dangly legs. Interestingly, the male’s eyes are divided by a groove and have separate connections to the brain. This allows the males to use the upper eye part to look out for females and the lower part to monitor their position in relation to the ground, allowing them to hover in the same position. The shiny black male flies are very conspicuous, with long dangling hind legs. You can often see them when they congregate in big swarms flying slowly, up and down, at around head height – trying to attract females. Females are bigger than their male counterparts at 14mm in length with smoky brown wings and much smaller eyes and legs and thus show sexual dimorphism (look significantly different).
The St. Mark’s Fly has a very short adult life cycle, being in flight for approximately only one week. The majority of their time is spent as larva in the soil. During autumn and winter, larvae feed on rotting vegetation which they chew with their strong mouthparts. In springtime the males emerge first and the females a few days later. After mating, females lay their eggs in the soil and die soon afterwards.
They feed on nectar, making them important pollinators of fruit trees and crops.
More information can be found here:
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