Spanish Fly

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Spanish Fly

Common name :  Spanish Fly

Latin: Lytta vesicatoria    Family: Meloidae

  1. Season: May-Aug
  2. Size:10-25mm
  3. Larval Food: parasite of solitary bee nests
  4. Status :unrecorded in ireland
  5. Biomap: southern Europe


Location :     Greystones south beach

Note: Unrecorded in ireland 

Wildlife relationships: Living and foraging on  Cats Ear  and Hawkbit


Range and habitat

The Spanish fly is a mainly southern European species although its range of habitats is more completely described as being “throughout southern Europe and eastward to Central Asia and Siberia,” alternatively as being throughout Europe, and parts of northern and southern Asia (excluding China). It occurs locally in southern Great Britain and Poland.

Adult beetles primarily feed on leaves of ash, lilac, amur privet, honey suckle and white willow tree while occasionally being found on plum, rose, and elm.

Life cycle

The defensive chemical cantharidin, for which the beetle is known, is produced only by males; females obtain it from males during mating, as the spermatophore contains some. This may be a nuptial gift, increasing the value of mating to the female, and thus increasing the male’s reproductive fitness.

The female lays her fertilised eggs on the ground, near the nest of a ground-nesting solitary bee. The larvae are very active as soon as they hatch. They climb a flowering plant and await the arrival of a solitary bee. They hook themselves on to the bee using the three claws on their legs that give the first instar larvae their name, triungulins (from Latin tri, three, and ungulus, claw). The bee carries the larvae back to its nest, where they feed on bee larvae and the bees’ food supplies. The larvae are thus somewhere between predators and parasites. The active larvae moult into very different, more typically scarabaeoid larvae for the remaining two or more instars, in a development type called hypermetamorphosis. The adults emerge from the bees’ nest and fly to the woody plants on which they feed.

Ref- with thanks

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