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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

11 November, 2011

Ichneumon Fly (Amblyteles armatorius)

Ichneumon flies are not flies at all, they are more closely related to wasps and bees in the order hymenoptera and that is not hard to believe when you see them, especially this one, Amblyteles armatorius, with its striking yellow and black colouring.

This species is very common in mid-summer, frequently seen on the flowers of umbeliferae (especially Hogweed and Angelica) but you will also find them on thistles and brambles. It is probably the most common of the Ichneumons and can be seen by day in sunshine.

The colours say 'keep away, I'm dangerous' and although harmless to humans having no bite or sting, they are far from harmless to moth caterpillers, especially those of the noctuid family. The ichneumons are parasitic, laying their eggs inside a living caterpiller and the larvae then eats the caterpiller from the inside out! Nature can seem cruel at times and yet it is fascinating too. One can feel sorry for the moth or admire the ichneumon (or may be both?).