Country corner

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In case you were wondering what the big, shiny black, dangly legged flies are, which have been flying in abundance over the last week or two, meet St Mark’s Fly.

First emerging around St Mark’s Day on April 25, they will be around for a while yet.

It always strikes me that Nature designed St Mark’s flies to create a super-abundant food supply for returning swallows and martins.

What a boost to any travel-weary wee bird to stock up on an easy supply of protein while going into the nesting season.

Being a sun lover, this large fly can be seen congregating on any sun-catching surface, especially on the south-facing side of large leafed shrubs.

Locally, the species is most noticeable along shrubby bits of coastline, where some picnicking humans can over-react to their presence with hilarious swatting, screaming and backwards running!

Though funny, such a reaction to nature always saddens me a little, as it shows just how unfamiliar with nature many modern people are.

Maybe it is the way St Mark’s Flies fly with their long legs dangling, leading people to surmise that they have stings?

The truth is that these are harmless flies, not in the least bit interested in you or your picnic.

Not only are they harmless to humans, St Mark’s Fly is also beneficial to a whole host of insectivorous predators.

Certainly swallows and brown trout must eat millions during April and May.

Hmm, I wonder what they taste like?