Thursday, 8 August 2019

Trapped! A silly blog

During the summer months the windows of our conservatory tend to remain open all day. Insects flit in and out, arriving full of enthusiasm and leaving a few minutes later looking confused and disgruntled.

Chris and I have just had a short break in Devon and, of course, prior to leaving, secured all the windows inevitably leaving insects trapped inside. They died in the heat and naturally I couldn't resist having a look at them, but they were predictably common and unspectacular.

The most obvious of the corpses was a Silver Y Moth, Autographa gamma. It is an ubiquitous insect and most people are probably familiar with it. Large numbers arrive here each year from central Europe, but whether some are resident in Britain I am not qualified to say.

The Silver Y moth is common all over Britain at this time of the year.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 8 August, 2019

Another, less welcome moth, was Hoffmannophila pseudospretella, the Brown House-moth. With so much of our clothing now consisting largely synthetic materials, has it become slightly less common? Perhaps not. In natural conditions it is attracted to sheep wool, feathers, birds' nests and so on.

Episyrphus balteatus was there too. It is one of our few two-winged flies to have a common name, being known as the Marmalade Fly. It was accompanied by Scaeva pyrastri, another common migrant. Both these species are hoverflies and are 'gardeners' friends', as the horticulturists put it.

A migrant hoverfly, Scaeva pyrastri, was among the fallen in our
conservatory. Stefen Hill, 8 August, 2019
Most people are familiar with flesh flies. These are feeders on carrion and other waste animal material (the flies that is, not the people) and are generally not welcome in our homes. Often large and with a loud buzz they are members of the Sarcophagidae family, and the name (Greek: sarkos, flesh, and fagein, eat) says it all.

Sarcophaga carnaria, the flesh-eating flesh fly! Stefen Hill, Daaventry.
8 August, 2019
The particular species on our mortuary slab of a window sill was Sarcophaga carnaria. 'Carnaria' also refers to flesh so we have yet another of these very common tautological scientific names.

A tiny bug, Anthocoris nemorum, was among the bodies together with Musca autumnalis. This Musca is a very common relative of the house-fly, Musca domestica but, despite its name, is by no means confined to autumn and may be found from March to November.

Strange to think that all over Britain during the next few weeks, an army of people will be returning from holidays and feverishly sorting through the dead insects on their window ledges.

Or perhaps not...

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