Watch out for feed­ing fe­male

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile -

Be­ware – the fe­male is more deadly than the male and she can bite! I am talk­ing about horse­flies and in par­tic­u­lar the large marsh hov­er­fly. I see a cou­ple each year, usu­ally late in the sum­mer and au­tumn on the Marsh and I def­i­nitely make sure they don’t land on me and give me a painful bite. The fe­male bites then sucks and feeds on the blood of any live­stock, horses and hu­mans, while the male feeds on nectar flow­ers. What a role re­ver­sal. Af­ter her feed she flies off and lays her eggs on veg­e­ta­tion, prefer­ably near boggy, muddy places. The lar­vae hatch and then dis­ap­pear down into the mud and feed on de­cay­ing plant mat­ter. Th­ese large flies fly in the day­time and I would give the com­par­i­son that they are around the size of a 50p piece, which is big for a bit­ing in­sect. For­get your mosquitos and midges – th­ese will hurt. Some peo­ple will re­act less well to the bite than oth­ers, but ei­ther way you will get a red swelling around the bite. The fly has very large eyes and is beau­ti­fully coloured, mainly in greys and browns. They are si­lent, so you won’t hear them buzzing around your arms and they do tend to fol­low you, once they have re­alised that you are a po­ten­tial meal.

For more in­for­ma­tion con­tact Owen Leyshon, Rom­ney Marsh Coun­try­side Project, tele­phone 01797 367934 or log on to

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