Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Giant Fly Harald/Kæmpefluen Harald

Tachnidae grossa

There are many kinds of flies -  and then there is the giant fly Harald. He is at least as big as a bumblebee, but he doesn't hurt a soul and is only found out in the pasture, where he is busy eating pollen from the flowers.

Harald is really a giant among flies, he's about 1 1/2 cm long and almost as broad. The fly looks black, but if you look closer, you'll se that the head is warm yellowish and the wings have brown edges. And flies and mosquitoes have two wings - while wasps and  bees have four wings.

The giant fly Harald lives from nectare and pollen, but its larvae lives as a parasite in caterpillars, so Harald is a parasite fly from the family Tachnidae, and his full Latin name is Tachnidae grossa.  Usually the entomologists choose very serious names, they are serious people - but among the serious names in the Bible about Western Europe's insects emerges suddenly the name Harald. This  was a source of wonder to many Danish naturists. What is it about this fly named Harald?

The answer has something to do with Mols. The naming is ascribed to the ecologist and nature historian Ellinor Bro Larsen, who often paid a visit to the Mols Laboratory in the 1950s. She found that the fly reminded much about the then head of  Naturhistorisk Museum in Århus (and thereby the Mols Laboratory) Harald Thamdrup. He was large and impossible to overlook. He was here and there and everywhere , since he was also the leader of the Vildtbiologisk Station at Kalø and professor at Aarhus Universitet. The name hit on the spot, and more and more biologists at the universities used it, so the name has since passed down to younger generations of biologists.

Usually appears Harald spread and in small numbers - and in some of our neighbouring countries is it even red-listed as "extremely rare". But in some years is Harald a common sight in many places on the southern Djursland, like in big numbers at the Mols Laboratory, in Feldballe and Elsegårde. It is best to find it on pastures and fallow fields with lots of flowers like pimpinelle, yarrow and field scabious. - It is not easy to overlook.

Source: Århus Universitet, Mols Laboratory.

photo Mid Jutland, field near Rye: grethe bachmann


swamericana said...

Gosh, that's a huge fly. And, quite interesting how Harald got his name.

Thyra said...

I knew you would catch this, Jack! It's so funny to call a fly Harald. First I thought it was because of another Harald - namely Harald Bluetooth! ´)

You are also here and there and everywhere and has a lot to do all the time like the professor Harald. Is there some little dragonfly over there in Texas who should be named Jack? ´)