Watch out for feeding female
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 www.rmcp.co.uk