Specieswatch: St Mark’s fly enjoys a bumper year

Specieswatch: St Mark’s fly enjoys a bumper year

A cold spring delayed the swarms, but in many areas the important pollinators are still numerous

This is a particularly good year for the St Mark’s fly (Bibio marci). They have sometimes been in such numbers that avoiding clouds of them has been quite difficult. The flies you normally see are males, black and about 12mm long with big eyes and dangly legs, bobbing up and down at about head height. The male’s eyes are split into two, one half to keep an eye out for the later emerging females and the other for checking how far they are from the ground. The females are slightly bigger but with smaller legs and eyes.

The fly’s name comes from the normal first appearance of the males on St Mark’s Day (25 April), but this year because of the cold spring the swarms came weeks later. In places the flies are still numerous. They are an important fruit pollinator and also known as the hawthorn fly because they often drink nectar from these flowers.

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