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Horseflies

Posted: Wednesday 31 July 2013
by Richard Jones

My South London garden is a peaceful oasis of calm. But I have left it for two weeks of high danger in sun-drenched Provence.


Horsefly

My South London garden is a peaceful oasis of calm. But I have left it for two weeks of high danger in sun-drenched Provence.

The butterflies are lovely - there have been easily 25 species so far, including Cleopatra, tiger swallowtail and several fritillaries. The black and green chafer beetles flying around the lilac are stylishly handsome. And the cicadas are so pleased to see me that they're still shouting about it from the treetops.

But within 48 hours of first plopping into the swimming pool here, I was viciously attacked. In fact, I was bitten on the bottom.

The South of France seems to have more than its fair share of horseflies this year. This is the kind of thing that leaves a trickle of blood dribbling down the leg of a three-quarter tonne Charolais. Instead, it chose my slender haunch. Boy, did I yelp.

I like horseflies. I think they are elegant and stylish insects. And they have beautiful eyes. Their biology is fascinating (soil-dwelling predatory larvae) and their blood-sucking mouthparts are marvels of evolutionary engineering.

But this is personal.

The garden of our holiday villa is awash with wildlife. It is bigger, brighter, more diverse and completely different to anything I can find in South London. But I have to be vigilant. Another bite like that and I will not be able to sit down for a week.





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oldchippy 02/08/2013 at 16:32

If that's a horsefly what are the olive green one's that bite me in my local park and make my arm swell up.

blairs 02/08/2013 at 17:20

Seems to be a good year for Horsefly. I have been bitten and so has all my family this year. Sore when they do!

 

Roy Hill 04/08/2013 at 12:47

Clegs have wonderful compound eyes. The way that they refract light gives a multitude of colours. But they are undoubtedly nasty biters. Allergic reactions to their bites is not uncommon. My other half has the same problem as oldchippy - a simple bite turns into quite a swelling.

slaphead08 08/08/2013 at 19:52

Horseflies have been really bad this year (West Somerset) they seem to have gone over now hopefully as I haven't seen one for about 2 weeks. It must have been the really hot weather that suited them. Are they actually worse where there are are a lot of animals, sheep, beef animals, horses. I am an animal / nature lover but I react badly to their bites, they are so quiet and so sly.... If I manage to see one alight on me it is DEAD!!!!.... sorry.

Sara 4 08/08/2013 at 20:00

A fireman in Devon actually died when he had an allergic reaction to a horsefly bite on his neck -  so I think slaughtering them is totally justifiable.

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