30. Tephritidae – Rorschach test

Psychologists know that a good way of getting people to talk about things that matters to them is to get them to talk about something else. What did you dream about last night? How did you feel about that? What associations does that image bring up? Or at another level of distraction, there is the ink-spot test where a meaningless blog (Freudian slip there – I meant blob) becomes a particular something that can be talked about as if it were meaningless.

Well have a look at this fly wing and tell me what you see. Relax – there is no right answer. Personally, I see Santa waving a greeting from his toy-laden sledge as a copiously maned lion pulls him across an icy lake while frenzied onlooking snow ghouls attack from every direction. Fascinating. Santa being Father Christmas of course, and the pull of lying (lion) might be man-ed? Go on. Well, this is the picturesque wing of Tephrita neesia, a member of the family Tephritidae, and a member of the superfamily Tephritoidea, commonly known, although I suspect by very few people. as picture-winged flies. Superfamily – interesting. How do you picture yourself in your family?

As the fly expert, obviously. It so happens that I have an unopened identification key to British Tephritidae on my shelves, Royal Entomological Society, 1988 by I.M. White. Just say that name again would you – I. M. White – I am right. Tephritidae – too afraid today. Would you say that you worry about, let’s say mistaking one fly family for another? Getting the identification wrong, so the book, the identity was unopened, unexplored…. Instead of the usual worries about the position of bristles on the face or how one wing vein meets another, the Tephritidae key is almost entirely based on the pattern of dark splodges, or by inverting the image, where the wing is clear or hyaline as it more obscurely terms it. You mentioned “inversion” and looking for bristles on a face – does either of these evoke a memory from your childhood perhaps?

The host for this fly is the ox eye daisy, which happens to be one of the flowers in the seed mix which I strewed upon what used to be the boys’ football pitch and is now the Meadow and where in late summer I can be glimpsed, topless wielding a scythe like the grim reaper himself. Wonderful! This is very interesting material indeed. Same time again next week – and just bring along whatever you catch – I think this blog of yours is going to be very fruitful material for us.

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