Climate causes hoverfly influx

THE hot weather brought a huge amount of visitors to the seaside resorts of East Anglia at the weekend – but unfortunately hundreds of thousands of them were not welcome.

THE hot weather brought a huge amount of visitors to the seaside resorts of East Anglia at the weekend - but unfortunately hundreds of thousands of them were not welcome.

The conditions, it emerged, were ideal for attracting what almost amounted to a plague of hoverflies.

Particularly badly affected was the Tendring peninsula, which experienced the highest temperatures in the country on Saturday.

Swarms of the insects descended on resorts such as Walton on the Naze - where the heat topped 23 degrees celcius - and Frinton on Sea.


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Although completely harmless, many people were alarmed because the flies - which belong to the genus syrphidae - mimic stinging insects, such as bees and wasps.

Terry Allen, leader of Tendring District Council, said he had to abandon work on a school in Frinton on Saturday because of the intensity of the swarms.

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"We were working outside and we were covered in them. If you look down the road people are covered in them. They look like bee-keepers.

"I'm looking at my pond. It's covered in them. The frogs are going to have a hay day. There are thousands."

Yesterday Tendring Nature Warden Leon Woodrow, who works on the Walton backwaters, said: "They are absolutely everywhere. I have had a lot of phone calls. People have been cancelling outdoor events such as barbecues.

"I have no idea where they have come from or when they will go. I don't think they're very long lived things.

"They are, however, harmless and in fact they are quite helpful. Each hoverfly will eat 800 greenflies in its larval state."

Laurie Forsythe, a spokesman for Essex Wildlife Trust, said: "At certain times of year, if the conditions are right, the population can explode.

"We are getting large swarms of them from across the channel.

"They are totally harmless - in fact they are beneficial. They are good pollinators and scavengers.

"In a nature reserve they are very interesting, but I realise that on a beach they are another matter."

Mr Forsthe also said that unfortunately there was no real way of getting rid of them.

"Its not really possible to keep them away. Because they like flowers, they are attracted to colours - white and yellow are very attractive to them."

He added that a long, hard downpour of rain would cause them to die in large numbers.

"Other than that they will drift along to the Autumn. They won't go back. They will die with the first frost," he added.

Hoverflies measure between 6 -13 mm long. There are around 250 different species found in the UK.

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