Sunday, June 24, 2012


Drone fly larvae, commonly known as rat-railed maggots, possess one of the most amazing pieces of equipment found in any insect larva. They live in waterlogged soil or shallow water around the margin of ponds, where the water level can rise and fall all the time - especially in a wet summer like the one we are enduring now. 

The long tail is the insect equivalent of a submarine snorkel, with muscles that allow it to shorten or elongate so that the tip of the tube is always level with the water surface.

At this stage in their life cycle they may not be high on aesthetic appeal but when they metamorphose they transform ........... 

...............into one of these 

A life that starts in stagnant mud becomes a drone fly, hovering in a sunbeam on a sunny afternoon.


  1. What an amazing way to metamorphose! Stunning.

  2. Incredible transformation, isn't it toffeeapple...?

  3. If you put a rat-tailed maggot in a jar of shallow water then slowly raise the water level you can watch its snorkel elongate Keith ...... now that's something I need to get on video!

  4. I think I have grown these in my horse poo and water manure (for garden). Are they are pest - they really gross me out! I found one alive, out of the barrel and in the soil, and thought he might eat all my veggies......

    1. Horse poo and water would be their ideal habitat. They feed on decaying plant material and detritus and aren't pests - and the adult drone flies that hatch from them are excellent pollinators. Embrace your rat-tailed maggots - we need all the pollinators we can get!