Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Insects in mid-winter

Still pretty mild for January - mild enough for these insects to be active:


An unidentified fly feeding on winter flowering sweet box (Sarcococca confusa) this afternoon, carrying a lot of pollen on its hairy body. The books say that sweet box is highly scented - but not to me, I can't smell it. Maybe it's similar to the ability to smell Freesias - some can, some can't. Sweet box certainly attracts flies, though.


Owl midges, about 3mm. long, on the surface of rainwater in a bucket in the garden. They are breeding in vast numbers in the compost bin during this mild weather - every time I open the lid swarms fly out and are fatally attracted to the water. For more on owl midges click here and here and here .


A booklouse (psocid), less than 2mm. long, living in a bag of walnuts (imported from France) that we stored in our conservatory. For more about this unusual but very common little insect click here 


  1. I was surprised yesterday when I had a large wasp in the kitchen. Don't ever remember seeing one in January before.

  2. I guess it must have been a queen that had been coaxed out of hibernation. One decided to spend the winter in a finger of my gardening gloves once - a very painful discovery!

  3. Think I ate two "fly's" yesterday, walked through a large group of them swaming round the hedges leading to the park. Took me a little by surprise, the sun was out so it was quite warm out of the wind...

    1. Bad luck Amanda! I believe it's an occupational hazard for joggers too...

  4. Phil
    I am probably wrong but is the first fly not a small one of these?

    Hard to tell from your pic but I understand they limit their size growth when food is in short supply and I have seen several very small ones in the last few weeks.

    1. Hi David, I think you're right - I suspected as much from the general features but the markings made me doubtful - but the food issue explains it - thanks!


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