Soldierflies, their allies and Conopidae of Surrey

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Soldierflies, their allies and Conopidae of Surrey

By David W. Baldock and Jeremy P. Early

Soldierflies, their allies and Conopidae of Surrey is the first comprehensive county guide to a fascinating yet overlooked group of invertebrates which merit much closer attention than they have so far received.

The Soldierflies and their allies, (collectively known as the 'Larger Brachycera'), are an attractive group of Diptera consisting of 11 separate families with intriguing names such as bee-flies, horseflies, robberflies, snipeflies and stiletto flies. Some are brilliantly coloured while others are relatively drab. Some are tiny, measuring just a couple of millimetres across while a few, such as the Dark Giant Horsefly, are ten times that size and within their numbers are bloodsuckers, predators and parasitoids.

Despite being landlocked, and small by comparison with the majority of counties, Surrey has 104 of the 159 species in the national list (the latest addition, the Long-horned Cleg, was recorded for the first time in the garden of one of the authors as the book went to press). This impressive total puts Surrey near the top in Britain numerically and the county supports a significant proportion of the national populations of three important and iconic species – the Hornet Robberfly, the Mottled Bee-fly and the Golden-tabbed Robberfly.

A high proportion of the soldierflies and their allies are considered nationally scarce and are generally not easy to find. The same can also be said for the Conopidae, which are parasitoids mostly of bees and wasps although thanks to its rich bee and wasp fauna, Surrey has 19 of the 23 species that make up the British list of conopid flies.

Jointly written by David Baldock and Jeremy Early, the book contains a distribution map together with notes on the life cycle of each species. There are also details on how to find the flies, analysis of the best sites in Surrey, data about enemies and predators, and a full list of references. The stunning colour plates illustrate more than 80 species, mostly in the wild and often displaying characteristic behaviour.

David Baldock has lived and worked all his life in south-west Surrey and has an extensive knowledge of the natural history of the county. He has written three previous titles in the Atlas series and has been county recorder for soldierflies, their allies and Conopidae since 2002. Jeremy Early is a journalist and nature photographer who has lived at Reigate or Leatherhead almost all his life. He has written, published and illustrated books on the wildlife of Leatherhead and Fetcham and garden wildlife at Reigate. His images have been included in a number of the Surrey Wildlife Trust atlas series as well as in natural history publications worldwide.