Ornate brigadier soldierfly

A truly awful day weather-wise - continuous heavy rain which has led to even more flooding. I caught up with paperwork, went to Sainsbury's to buy food for Ben's birthday barbecue, which is planned for tomorrow evening (always optimistic!) and photographed a few interesting insects.

This is an ornate brigadier soldierfly Odontomyia ornata, a very smart beast that looks like a number of more common soldierflies, but has a very characteristic shade of orange-yellow on its bands. It is very rare, and until recently was almost restricted to coastal grazing levels, with a stronghold in the Gwent Levels. It was first recorded from Woodwalton Fen NNR last year, and Pete found it there again this season, so it seems to have established.

This species likes like slow-flowing ditches with floating mats of vegetation. In the past, Woodwalton Fen had flowing ditches with large quantities of submerged pondweeds, but changes in water management have meant that flows are almost non-existent in summer, and many ditches have blankets of duckweed. There are moves in place to try and restore the original ditch management, which is good news for the pondweeds, but might mean this soldierfly is only a temporary resident.

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