(Order: Diptera)

Tachinid Fly (Dexiosoma caninum) (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

It’s always easy to recognise a tachinid fly by its “spiky bottom” and whilst I love all insects, even I struggle to warm to tachinids.The abdomen is striped and can be grey, buff or brownish. It seems to be fairly common in England, but less so in Scotland.

Tachinid Fly (Eriothrix rufomaculatus) (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

Apologies for the less than brilliant photos (other than the top one which isn't too bad), but I think it is still clear enough to see the spiky bottom, broad black abdominal stripe in the middle of an orangey-red abdomen and yellowish tinge at the base of the wings. The veins on its wings also seem to have a “Batman” appearance. For some reason, you can just tell, like all tachinid flies, that it’s a parasite.  Its grubs bore into various caterpillars.

Tachinid Fly (male) (Phasia hemiptera) (Argyll Caravan Park, Argyll)

Ok, this one's a real mystery to me.  Firstly, I'm fairly sure the identification is right as this fly has distinctive orange tufts or hair at the side of its thorax, but it doesn't have the spiky bottom of your typical tachinid.  However, in true tachinid style, they are parasitic, and in fact parasitise living shieldbugs. However, its name includes the word 'hemiptera' which I thought was the Latin name for the 'true bugs' which this certainly isn't.  All very confusing, but this fly was quite large and rounded looking.  The orange turts make it quite unusual and the rounded wings have a bluish sheen to them.  These tachinids are 'sexually dismorphic' which means that the males and females look very different.  The females also have the orange tufts of hairs at the side of their thoraxes, but their abdomens also have orange 'shading' and their wings are straighter and clearer than the males.

Tachinid Fly (Thelaira nigripes or similar) (Glencoe Visitor Centre, Glencoe)

A tachinid modelling the typical spiky bottom look here. It looks like there are a number of similar species, so I can't be certain of the identification of this one, and certainly some of the other photos of Thelaira nigripes I've seen have orange as well white bands to the side of the central black band down the middle of the abdomen. It would really need proper examination by an expert to identify this fully. This species does however have fairly long legs which you can see from the long one at the back. Still, quite a nasty looking fly this one which is a parasite of certain moth and other insect caterpillars - and although it looks like it may have been responsible for the demise of the other little fly on this leaf, it seems that as adults, they may mainly eat foods such a flower nectar, so perhaps we shouldn't accuse it of this fly's death after all.

Tachinid Fly (Gymnocheta viridian or Chrysosomopsis auratus) (Patterton, South West Glasgow)

This looks like a hairy greenbottle, but that spiky bottom is the giveaway for me. The two species  mentioned are very similar and you would have to count the rows of hairs on the back of its thorax with G, viridian having  4 rows and C. auratus having 3 - you couldn't make it up! Unsurprisingly, I didn't know this when I took the photo and unfortunately, the photo is no where near sharp enough to even see any hairs on its thorax, never mind count them. These tachanids are more common in England than they are in Scotland where they appear to be less well recorded. There's also something about these tachanids that even for an insects-lover like me is slightly off-putting - like you wouldn't want it landing on your food or walking across the kitchen table...