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Microdon mutabilis

 
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stuart
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Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 737
Location: Peterborough, UK

PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2005 5:39 pm    Post subject: Microdon mutabilis Reply with quote

Microdon mutabilis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Identification ease/difficulty: 5

Sources of information
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stuart
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Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Peterborough, UK

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2005 8:41 am    Post subject: Species account from the Provisional atlas Reply with quote

Species account from Provisional atlas of British hoverflies, Ball & Morris, 2000.

Microdon mutabilis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Biology: The very distinctive larvae live in ants nests. They are hemispherical in shape, heavily armoured and prey on the eggs and larvae of a variety of ant species including Formica lemani, F. fusca, Lasius niger and Myrmica ruginodis, often, but not exclusively, in wet or boggy situations. Their feeding behaviour is described by Barr (1995). On Mull, an average of 5.5 larvae per nest of F. lemani were recorded over a 10 year period (Barr, 1995). The pupae are of similar shape and are also armoured. Adults are usually seen hovering low over paths or other bare areas in boggy heathland, wet meadows and dune slacks

Distribution: The most widely distributed species of the genus, occurring down the west coast of Britain from Scotland through north-west England and Wales to the south-west peninsula, where it is perhaps most frequent. It also occurs on wet heath in Surrey, the New Forest and Dorset
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stuart
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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2005 9:09 am    Post subject: Data sheet from National Review of Diptera, Falk, 1991 Reply with quote

Datasheet from the Review of Scarce and Threatened Diptera, Falk (1991).

MICRODON MUTABILIS (Linnaeus) NOTABLE

DISTRIBUTION Records widely scattered in England, Wales and Scotland. It is perhaps most frequent in the wetter climates of the west country.

HABITAT There is a close association with damp situations including boggy ground, dune slacks and damp meadows. On the Isle of Mull, in a high rainfall climate, it is able to use better drained slopes.

ECOLOGY The armoured, slug-like larvae live as commensals in the nests of ants where they feed on the discarded food pellets of the adult ants. A number of ant species appear to be used including Formica lemani, F. fusca, Lasius niger, Myrmica ruginodis and, abroad, F. transkaucasica, and nest sites include Sphagnum moss and under stones. Adults recorded from May to July and may be found sitting on vegetation near their breeding sites.

STATUS This species appears to have undergone a decline in England. It used to be a fairly common insect in the south-west and New Forest, but recent records from the former area are rather few and it is hardly common in the New Forest. It is not infrequent on the Isle of Mull. There is evidence to suggest it could have been overlooked in parts of Wales and Scotland. About 25 post 1960 sites are known. Status revised from RDB3 (Shirt 1987).

THREAT The drainage of wetland sites such as bogs on heaths and dune slacks and improvement of grassland for agriculture or intensive forestry. Pollution such as agricultural run-off could be a problem and scrub invasion through the lowering of the water table.

MANAGEMENT Retain marshy areas and damp, unimproved meadows and prevent the invasion of scrub, bracken or coarse grasses which could affect ant populations.
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