Country corner

When I recently came across an enormous fly which looked more like a bumble bee, I knew that I had found something unusual.

Not only did the fly look strange, it was also behaving very strangely, flying up from its chosen bramble bush to chase off any passing insects, including bees and wasps.

In the bad old days, the first thing to do with a rarity was to catch it, kill it and preserve it.

Today, however, superzoom compact cameras are the perfect tool for identifying unknown insects.

Mind you, with all its aggressive chasing, this one didn’t exactly make photography easy!

On the other hand, it was moving position so often, it wasn’t long before it landed close enough and just long enough for me to grab one or two close-ups.

First thing to do was compare the photos to my books.

This told me the giant fly was in fact a Bumblebee Tachnid (tachina grossa).

Tachnids are a group of flies I know little about, so I tried the internet.

My interest grew when the net showed me a distribution map with only a handful of recorded sightings in Scotland.

My next port of call was TWIC – The Wildlife Recording Centre – who collate local records of all species of wildlife.

News came back to the effect that my Bumblebee Tachnid was only the second record they had received for Lothian.

Of course, this might mean that the insect is not as rare as people who prowl the countryside trying to put names to every living thing they see!

However, I can honestly say that it is great fun .

Why not give it a try and see if you can find Lothian’s third Bumblebee Tachnid for TWIC?

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