Picture Wing Flies (Herina Species)

Picture Wing Flies, as a general term, are considered to be those species associated with one of the following families of Diptera (true flies).

  • Ulidiidae (20 UK species) – Including Herina species (see below)
  • Platystomatidae (2 UK species) – Signal Flies
  • Pallopteridae (13 UK species) – Flutter Flies
  • Tephritidae (around 80 UK species) – now termed fruit flies along with members of the family Drosophilidae.

Below is the species that visited our garden and is shown in the Gallery. Our best guess at the time was this species belonged to the genus Herina which therefore would make it one of the 20 species of Ulidiidae. Unfortunately to be 100% sure we would need specialist help.

Some publications are available online such as The Royal Entomological Society of London: 1988 Tephritid Flies (I.M.White). However for the lay person this is a bit too scientific.

A useful pictorial guide has been published online;

Storey, Malcolm [July 2018], A Pictorial Guide to the Picture Wing Flies of Britain and Ireland [online], bioimages.org.uk, Accessed 17/09/2021.

This supports our view this is likely a Herina species. Another useful publication I found online again supports this view, well in our opinion it does.

Clements, David K. And Merz, Bernhard, Key to the genus Herina (Diptera, Ulidiidae) in Britain [online], file:///D:/Garden%20Wildlife/Animals/Insects/Ulidiidae%20(Pictured-winged%20flies)/DD%201998%20Vol%205%20No%202.pdf , Dipterists Digest 1998 Vol. 5 No. 2 Pages 55-67. Accessed 17/09/2021

Page 56/60 indicates that there were 6 Herina species present (at that time) in Britain, Herina lacustris, Herina longistylata, Herina frondescentiae, Herina gerinationis, Herina oscillans  and Herina paludum.

Page 56 also notes that what had previously been considered Herina lugubris in Britain is in fact H.longistylata. Stating true H.lugubris had yet to be recorded in Britain but could already have been here.

H. longistylata, referred to on page 57 – figure 4, most resembles the species photographed above. H. lugubris is not sketched and is only referred to as being indistinguishable from H.longistylata, unless by examination of the genitalia.

What I’m not sure about is if these two species are now actually considered one and the same. But either way I think we can conclude we are in the ball park with identifying this fella. But for now we will continue to mark is as most likely species (MLS) on the species list.

So assuming it is what we think it is, did it have any specific reason to visit our garden.

A quick search online suggests this species is widespread and on the wing between June and August, the fella above being recorded on 27 June 2021. Clements (above) explains the biology of the family as a whole is uncertain but there seems to be some sort of association with particular habitats, most notably for this area woodland rides, woodland edges, fresh water and wetland. Being in South East Bristol there are no close by calcareous grasslands or sand dunes, the other habitats its associated with. But the other habitats noted are all present within a short distance, most notably at Eastwood Farm Local Nature Reserve, which has a large wetland area, open rank grassland habitats and woodland edge / ride type habitats.

Currently I can find little additional information regarding this species, the genus or for that matter the family. So just what this fella was doing in our garden (repeatedly recorded over the early summer) is a bit unknown. Perhaps just passing through but it would be amazing to find out if our garden could support this amazing species in some way.

DC – 17th September 2021