Thursday, August 05, 2004

When it's a hoverfly

Is this not a magnificently frightening image; wonderful!

"Just as the last flying ants collapse, exhausted, after their spectacular aerial mating swarms, Britain's modest heatwave has brought a new insect plague to parts of the south and east coasts.

Millions of marmalade hoverflies have crossed from the continent on warm thermals, causing havoc on beaches and seafronts where children and families have mistaken their banded black-and-yellow colouring for wasps.

'It was just horrific,' said esplanade shopkeeper Jeanette King, a former mayor of Walton on the Naze in Essex where the 'marmalades' - harmless and the commonest of Britain's 270 species of hoverfly - came ashore at the weekend.

'Children were screaming, people were covering up prams and pushchairs. If you stopped still for a moment, you could get covered in them. I was told that it was the same all the way to Kirby le Soken, and that's quite a step [away].' Drifts of the hoverflies also piled up along the foreshore between Walton and Clacton, as insects which had failed to make the Channel crossing were washed up by the tide."

'When is a wasp not a wasp?'

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