Friday, 15 July 2011

Award for bravery?

While ringing birds on the BTO reserve, we occasionally get bird parasites "abandoning ship", and jumping on to us instead. Sat back at my desk after a morning's ringing, I was concerned to find one of these crawling out of my clothes....

It's a flat-fly, or louse-fly, and I came across the perfect quote to describe these beasts in the New Naturalist 'Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos; a Study of Bird Parasites":

"They never fly forward but sidelong, as it were, hopping and skipping as they go. For reasons which defy analysis, louse-flies are particularly repellent insects, and most people experience a shudder of disgust at the sight of them, and are filled with a quite unreasonable feeling of horror if they happen to dart up their sleeves or into their hair while handling the host"

I fully agree with this assessment, and so I consider it a rather heroic act on my part that instead of squealing like a little girl and flicking it away, I not only caught the creepy scuttling thing in a pot, but then spent time studying it closely in order to identify it as Ornithomyia avicularia - new to the list. Do I get some kind of TEAL medal for bravery?


  1. Definitely Kate! A real birder's insect.

    Less scary perhaps, but going through today's plant photos netted us a surprising five new plant ticks - Skullcap, Blue Water Speedwell, Water Chickweed, Canadian Goldenrod and Greater Pond Sedge.

  2. You should pot up a few more, as there are a couple more species to find. Try catching some Swallows to look for Ornithomyia biloba...