Nature on our Doorstep - The Drone Fly

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

Hoverflies belong to the True Flies group of insects.

They have only one pair of wings, their eyes are large, and their antennae are very short. Also, while they have similar colour patterns to bees and wasps, they do not have the narrow waists of those insects, and they do not sting.

The Drone Fly is an important pollinating insect 1

The drone fly is an important pollinator 

The Drone Fly is a hoverfly that is often seen in gardens and parks.

This stout little fly is brown in colour, with yellow-orange patches on its sides.

Like most hoverflies, it visits flowers to feed on pollen, and so it is an important pollinating insect.

The adult Drone Fly lays her eggs in stagnant ponds, in drains, or in wet places that are rich with decaying organic material.

The Drone Flys larva is called the rat tailed maggot 1

On hatching, the larva begins to feed on the rotting material in the water, growing quite quickly.

Stagnant, nutrient-rich water contains very little oxygen, but the Drone Fly’s larva is well adapted to such situations.

It has a very long, thin tube at the end of its cylindrically shaped body. When it needs to breathe, it uses this long tube as a snorkel, lifting it up through the surface of the water to the air above.

This unusual, but very useful, adaptation has earned this larva the unfortunate name of ‘the rat-tailed maggot’.

 

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