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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

31 December, 2012

Banded General Soldier fly (Stratiomys potamida)

This striking yellow and black fly looked to me like a wasp-impersonating hoverfly when I first saw it but it turned out to be neither! It is just a fly despite that bold appearance. It is one of the family called soldier flies because of the smart uniform they wear.

This species was recently given the common name of the Banded General. Its larvae feed on algae and rotting vegetable matter in very damp areas so you will often find the fly itself in similar habitat either on the ground laying eggs or perhaps nectaring on nearby umbellifer flowers such as Hemlock-water Dropwort, Hogweed and Angelica.

One of three similar species so one need a careful eye to distinguish which one, the 'eye' that helped me with this one was the I-Spot website!
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www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Banded%20General%2...

Broad Centurian Soldier Fly (Chloromia formosa)

If you take the trouble to look you will find this little fly sunbathing on the leaves of hedgerow plants in summer. They are also often seen feeding on the pollen from Hogweed in late summer.

Part of a family commonly known as Soldier Flies because of their bright colouring supposedly resembling military uniforms this one has been named the Broad Centurion. It has a flattened body with a square 'tail' end.

The fly itself is a wonderful metallic green that glistens in the sun. The male has a bronze sheen to the abdomen whereas the female has a more bluish colouring.

The grubs feed on leaf litter and other material in damp ground so the fly prefers wetter areas around woodland edges and hedges which have ditches.
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Find out more here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Broad%20Centurion%...

Cranefly (Limonia nubeculosa)

One tends to think of crane-flies as resting with their wings open and at right-angles to the body and this is, indeed, a typical trait of the larger crane-flies of the common Tipulidae family. However, there are several species where this is not the case as you can see from this species, Limonia nubeculosa, Those folded back wings hide a small, slender body and long legs and they can look a bit like large mosquitoes! These are, though, quite harmless.

Mainly a woodland species, they can be found at any time of year but less so in winter of course. The larvae feed on rotting leaf litter, fungi and so on and are an integral part of the woodland recycling system.
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Find out more here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Crane%20Fly%20%5BL...

Black Snipe Fly (Chrysopilus cristatus)

This is one of the range of flies known as snipe-flies but I cannot find the origins of why they are called this. They tend to rest head downwards so may be it something related to that?

This particular species is one of twelve in the genera and is called the Black Snipe-fly because many of this group are quite brightly coloured whereas this one is not! A fairly common species in damp, shady woodland found from May through until August. Its larvae live in rotting wood and leaf litter where they are predators of other small insects and invertebrates.

They do like to sunbathe as adults and this one was by the river at Kingcombe where it runs through the woodland, text book habitat!
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Find out more here: www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species_panel/Black%20Snipe%20Fly