Dagger Fly

The dagger fly Empis tessellata is one of the most frequent large flies that can be seen sitting on flower-heads at this time of year. Though it feeds on nectar, and is an excellent pollinator (as shown by the generous dusting of pollen all over its body), it is also a predator and catches other insects using its long pointed proboscis to pierce their bodies. Males present a 'gift' to the female, in the form of a dead insect, before mating takes place. Females will not mate with males who do not present a gift.

I photographed this one in the garden during a spell of afternoon sunshine, before a video call relating to a major piece of fieldwork that we'll be starting this week. The evening was beautiful and I was just about to go for a short walk before dinner, when a neighbour alerted me to the fact that another neighbour had lost her husband (who has Alzheimer's) during a walk at Ferry Meadows. The whole household headed out in cars and on bikes to help with the search. Alex phoned a couple more friends who live nearby, and fortunately they  spotted him just climbing over a stile and were able to take him home. A scary half an hour, but fortunately  all ended well...

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