Saturday, March 29, 2008

Other things that fly

Watchers of birds also tend to observe other things that fly - bees, butterflies, wasps, moths and dragonflies (is there anything else left?). So with as much interest as they read about the demise of birds they read about the fate of other flying species.
One piece that caught my eye today was that of a (flying) parasitic fly, Sturmia bella, affecting the life of one of our most colourful butterflies - the Small Tortoiseshell. Apparently the caterpillars of the butterfly eat the eggs of the wasp, which then hatch within the caterpillar, and feed on it as they develop into the adult wasp.
Although not proven the concept is sound, but what makes it more worrying is that the wasp is only a recent addition to our shores so, if correct, Small Tortoiseshells could be heading for difficult times.
Note - the picture is not to scale. The wasp is definitely smaller than the butterfly.

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