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Spare the fuzzy ones

December 15, 2018

During the warmer months of the year the bite from the Australian Common (AC) March Fly (Tabanus australicus) can take the shine off a BBQ and in my experience many of these flies are pre-emptively despatched during the course of a lazy summer’s afternoon outdoors. In reality it is only the female fly that bites. She requires blood with which to develop eggs and obtains it by biting warm-blooded creatures, including us. The male is a nectar feeder.

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Flower-feeding March Fly

Being a March Fly is doubly tough if you are Flower-feeding (FF) March Fly (Scaptia auriflua), pictured above and right, because both male and female are strictly nectar feeders and do not bite at all (unless perhaps you are coated in honey). They are one of the beneficial pollinators in the garden and should be spared the wrath of the rolled up newspaper so that they can continue to do their good work.

 

Australian Common March Fly

Telling the difference between the AC and the FF March Fly can be difficult.  The FF March Fly is ‘fuzzy’ being covered with dense hair to mimic a bee. The abdomen has large distinctive cream circles on a black background (pictured above). The AC March Fly (pictured left) has stripes on the abdomen. In close up the differences are obvious but when walking through the bush it’s still hard to tell.

Ultimately, to tell the difference you may have to wait until the fly decides to suck on a flower or on your leg.

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