Before I start with today's species, one minor caveat - the images here, although I'm pleased with them as they do the job they are required to, are not necessarily what might be considered professional quality. However, my aim is to show what can be done by an amateur, or (like me) freelance professional at home, without the latest laboratory/museum set-up. All my work here is done with a good quality, but old, binocular microscope (acquired for free during a university clear-out from a lab tech who didn't want it to go into a skip), a new but inexpensive high-power monocular microscope, and a point-and-shoot compact digital camera.
So, enough background - today's beastie is the common Broad Centurion (Chloromyia formosa), a soldierfly (family Stratiomyidae) known from umbellifers in a range of habitats throughout lowland Britain, and found from May to August, and occasionally September. This one was found dead in our back garden and although we have no umbellifers there are plenty nearby.
|Dorsal view of C. formosa showing hairy eyes, green pronotum & scutellum, and bronze abdomen, colours seen to varying extents in many soldierflies.|
|Ventral view of C. formosa showing the darker underside (gold tufts on the abdomen) and dark legs with yellow 'knees' and tarsi.|
|The haltere (the upper 'drumstick') is a modified wing found near the wing in all true flies (which is why they have only one pair of wings). The hairy paddle-shaped structure below is a flap near the base of the wing.|
|The leg (femur at the top, tibia to the side) showing the yellow 'knee'. The tibia has small yellowish hairs but no large bristles.|
|The abdomen detached in dorsal view - note the bronze colour (bluish and wider in females) and short stocky shape.|
|The underside of the head showing the groove where the mouthparts lie. These are short which is why they feed on umbellifers which have small flowers and easy available nectar.|
|A close-up of the abdomen showing punctures and hairs.|
|The tip of the abdomen showing the hair-fringed reproductive opening.|
Stubbs, A. & Drake, M. (2001). British Soldierflies and Their Allies. BENHS, Reading.
An excellent book and essential for the study of soldierflies in Britain - it also includes the Acroceridae (hunchback flies), Asilidae (robber flies), Athericidae (water snipeflies), Bombylidae (bee flies), Rhagionidae (snipe flies), Scenopinidae (window flies), Tabanidae (horse flies), Therevidae (stiletto flies), Xylomyidae (wood soldierflies) and Xylophagidae (awl flies).