Thursday, May 06, 2010

I saw a fly

This is quite an unusual insect that I found by chance on my Ivy Hedera helix growing over a dead tree stump. It is a type of Sawfly. At first I was convinced the species was Abia sericea as the metallic green body, brownish edge to front of wings and the purple thorax seemed to fit the indentification features. However, after posting this picture on I have been advised the species is Zaraea lonicera due to the black antennae and the habitat being a better match. It feeds on Honeysuckle (and Snowberry) and is often found in gardens. If the antennae were entirely reddish brown or orange then it would more than likely have been Abia sericea. The fattish body indicate this is a female.

What is strange about this group of insects is the name sawfly. It does not belong to the True Flies: Order Diptera group (two wings), but instead it is from the Bees, Wasps, Ants and Related Insects: Hymenoptera group (two pairs of wings). They get their name because most females have a saw-like ovipositor, although in some species it works more like a drill.

I photographed this specimen on the 23rd April and must thank Martin Harvey for identifying this for me as none of my insect books have any reference to Zaraea lonicera.