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Nick Baker, Presenter and Naturalist

From issue:   Issue:   British Wildlife 26.6 August 2015

Bringing soldierflies to attention

By - Richard Lewington, Alan Stubbs

The name ‘soldierflies’, as with ‘soldier beetles’, derives from an era when soldiers were dressed in conspicuous and colourful uniform, the insects themselves often being spotted on flowers as if on sentry duty. It is highly likely that you have seen soldierflies without realising it, assuming them to be hoverflies or some other insect. In Britain we have 47 confirmed species, many of intermediate size, but, as an introduction to the army, the focus here is on the ‘Big Five’ species, 1cm to nearly 2cm long.

The first step in recognising soldierflies is to check the wing venation, which is very different from that of a hoverfly. The veins (struts supporting the wing membrane) are strong in the front half of the wing but faint in the hind half. Most distinctive is a small ring-vein from which an array of faint veins fans towards the wing margin. 

 

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"British Wildlife is the pulsating heart of the UK nature conservation movement."

Matthew Oates, National Trust

"The most important and informative publication on wildlife of our times"

Michael McCarthy, The Independent

"Packed with readable, thoughtful, up to date articles; written by ecologists and naturalists for ecologists and naturalists"

Nick Baker, Presenter and Naturalist