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It's daffodil time again and daffodil flies (Norellia spinipes - a Scathophagid) will be about. Back in 2009 I appealed for everyone to look for this rare fly and 4 new records were submitted as a result (Daffodil fly appeal). These flies can usually be found sitting on daffodil leaves or flower stems. Records are not exclusively confined to Daffolils or to spring time - a specimen was photographed by Alan Outen in November 2010 on Carex (A possible Sciomyzid).
I appeal to everyone to check their local daffodil patches again this year to see if further records can be made. The furthest North records so far are Alan's in Beds. and my own from Worcs.
N. spinipes is a delicate little creature with long legs and at first site looks more like a stilt-fly than a dung-fly - see pictures attached (detail picture copied from Alan Outen posting and daffodil stem from my own)
Last edited by malcolmsmart (2011-03-16 15:59:02)
I have a sense that, so far, my records of this year have a certain bias to invertebrates that could be originating from mini-environments that are somewhat warmer than average: (i) Myriapods under e.g. a stone (iSpot, 25th, Jan. 2011 - “Blaniulid”), (ii) Musca domestica (iSpot 15th March, 2011 – “Flies on Wall”), (iii) Flies around rotting fungus (This Forum – Identification – Small flies around fungus) and (iv) A dung fly on daffodils (This Forum – Identification – Fly among daffodils).
A possibility that might merit further exploration is that daffodils, by virtue of energy obtained from their bulbs, are warmer than their surrounding environment at this time of year, so that certain flies are attracted to them.
They may not just be basking on outer surfaces. Further images that I obtained today (uploads) show what looks like another Scathophagid, this time with pollen on its thorax. Perhaps it sheltered in the bell of a daffodil flower overnight. In two of my recent images of Musca domestica (iSpot – above ), there is also pollen-like material on the thorax.
Your pictures above are of a male specimen of Scathophaga stercoria and you may well be correct in assuming that daffodils are attractive to many species of flies at this time of year (perhaps because they represent a nectar source rather than a heat source).
However, Norellia spinipes is attracted to daffodils because its immature stages live within the the plant, possibly exclusively. I quote below the text of an unpublished article summarising the current knowledge of this species in Britain.
"This rather distinctive species was first recorded in 1965 (Chandler and
Stubbs, 1969; Chandler, 1970) and has been found mainly in deciduous
woodland or in gardens in Surrey, Kent, Sussex, Bucks, Berks, Herts,
Cambs., Hunts. and Middlesex (Allen, 1983; Godfrey, 1989; Smith, 1996;
Smith & Vardy, 1988) where it is associated with daffodils (Narcissus). The
larvae mine the leaves and pupate at the base of the plant and sometimes
damage the bulbs (Smith, 1989). Most records are for the Spring (April to
June) when adults are usually found on daffodil leaves, but there are also
October records which seem to always relate to females. No specimens
earlier than 1965 have come to light, although it is not uncommon at some
localities within its limited range. This suggests it is a recent colonist and
was probably introduced from the continent in imported bulbs"
My interest derives from finding a colony of the species in Worcestershire (rather further North than reported above).
I hope this clarifies my request for information.
Malcolm, I have it from three sites in Warwickshire and one in Suffolk. Most encounters are in woods without any obvious daffodils. wanderers I presume. How do you want the records sent?
I shall be most interested see your records. Please e-mail them to me.
My first specimen from the Worcester colony I referred to above turned up in a malaise trap in an orchard with no obvious daffodils. The following year I went back and searched the area for daffodils. I found a large patch of daffodils in the adjacent (+/-100m) farm garden and another in the entrance drive - both with many specimens of N. spinipes on them.
Still haven't managed to find it in my garden but did find a female just down the road in our village today (19 March), sitting on daffodil leaves on a road verge in Great Kimble, Buckinghamshire, SP82350605. There's some photos on iSpot at http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/120817
I found 5 today at Greywell Hants today. SU722513
interestingly there were several clumps of daffs, but they were only found on the small (species?) daffs. and seemed to avoid the large showy horticultural daffs.
Does this fit with others observations?
Last edited by Mark (2011-03-20 03:43:21)
Two copulating pairs of Norellia spinipes seen (one pair collected) today at Lyth Hill,. just south of Shrewsbury. 21 March 2011. Will forward details soon.
The grid ref for the Lyth Hill record is SJ465065. Date 21 March 2011. Both copulating pairs were standing on the infloresences of daffodils on open hillside - where the daffs had gone wild.
I also noted yesterday that Pete Boardman has two Shropshire records on NBN gateway from 2006.
Last edited by conopid (2011-03-22 12:39:42)
Two more records from Bucks (VC24), one in the north and one in the south of the county:
24 March 2011, two individuals seen on daffodils on road verges at the Open University campus, Milton Keynes, SP884372
27 March 2011, could only find one individual among lots of daffodils within the grounds of Cliveden National Trust, SU910855
Thanks everyone for your records so far. I've been away overseas for 2 weeks and was unable to respond until now. Please keep looking and hopefully finding more specimens of this interesting species.
And another, this time from Royal Victoria Park, Bath, ST744651, on 9 April 2011.
I took a male Norellia spinipes on 22/3/2012 at Castle Ashby gardens SP868588, Northants. I swept it from a 'wild' part of the garden, in woodland. The ground flora had daffodil, martagon lilies, wood anemones, lesser celandine etc..
Sweeping daffodils at Wytham Wood woodland edge VC22 SP4507 on 28th March 2012 I captured 9 males and 4 females of Norellia spinipes identified using Stuart's keys by microscopy. I did not capture any others in my general sweeping away from daffodils.
I swept a male Norellia spinipes from a small patch of daffodils in North Cliffe Woods, south of York, at GR SE864372 on 28/03/2012. Keyed out with Stuart's key and kindly checked for me by Roy Crossley.
I too have been sweeping daffodils in NE Hants & West Surrey at every available opportunity, and this year, so far, not a single specimen. But there is still time.
I found one again last Autumn at Stanford Wood among sedges (as the previous year - you saw specimen and my images Malcolm) and with no daffodils in the wood. Despite having over 50 daffodil cvs in our Clifton (Beds) garden and checking these a few times daily when I am at home I have again failed to find any here this Spring as last year.
I uploaded some images of a fly found on daffodils on the identification forum (17.3.12) which was identified as a male Norellia spinipes. Since then I have seen numerous ones in my garden in Darwen, Lancashire SD 700203.
Thank you all for this new information. I am still assembling records for N. spinipes and welcome receiving records from anybody. So far, the only ones not directly associated with daffodils seem to be Alan's but those are both autumn records rather than spring. Could it be that Alan's records relate to a different but similar (and possibly previously unrecognised) species. It would be interesting see specimens/photos of it and to learn exactly how it was behaving. I have only ever seen N. spinipes flying amongst ot sitting on daffodil leaves, stalks of flowers in early spring.
I had it on daffodils adjacent to Stockton Churchyard SO728997 in Shropshire VC40 on the 22nd March 2012.
Cheers Pete Boardman
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
But still the Norellia spinipes
were no where to be seen!
I have however found two on reed, one at SU737263, and the other at SU958445.
Following on from the specimen showed to me by Ian Andrews, other examples were found by him at daffs in a small wood at Pocklington (E.Yorks.). Spurred on by Ian's original discovery, - the first for Yorks. as far as I know - I found specimens in April (6th-20th), at four more local E.Yorks sites, including a historic and well know 'wild daffodil' wood, and my village churchyard. John Coldwell has also found it in the Barnsley area this spring. An extensive search of the
famous wild daffodil poipulations in the North York Moors National Park failed to reveal any. So here 'up north' we have established this year that the species is present over a fairly wide area in lowland Yorkshire. In the light of these eperiences, my instinct suggests that it will probably be found almost wherever daffs occur in the lowlands.
I have two records from Cheshire. The earliest is from 14 May 1999 when I swept a single male at The Quinta, an arboretum at Swettenham (SJ796674). I have no recollection of where I found it, but the site does have daffodils.
On 18 July 2012, I dodged out into the garden between showers and swept a few flies from the shrubs. To my surprise these included a male and a female Norellia spinipes. Both I and my neighbour have daffodils and narcissi in the vicinity, though these were not swept. The location is Winsford, Cheshire (SJ64036534).
We've got Norellia spinipes in the Wildlife Garden at the NHM (TQ265790). I picked on up on 1 August this year. Not sure that we encourage daffodils in the garden (?), but there will be plenty in the area (e.g. Hyde Park). The garden is fairly well shaded; particularly by August time.
I caught this fly at Tottenham Cemetery yesterday, 5th March, if you're still collecting records. I think it's the right one, and I have the specimen. It's much too big for Norrelisoma and I can't find anything else similar