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Phaonia tuguriorum

The genus Phaonia is comprised of some 40 species and all have been found in (parts) of Britain. Flies belonging to the genus Helina are very similar. And there are 23 species within the genus Helina. So in most cases it is extremely difficult to tell those species apart. Phaonia tuguriorum is a rather striking species though. The two upper parts of the legs are reddish brown. Only the last part is your usual black. The end of the shield shows a yellow dot. There also is a typical mark on the wings, but alas, that is not visible in this picture. In very early spring this is the first true fly to appear. Sometimes it is seen flying about in February. And in mild winters it is still seen in December. Indoors it may be encountered all year long. It measures 6 to 8 mm.

The adult flies are easily found in early spring. They are fond of the first plants to flower and among their favourites are the Wood Anemone and the Coltsfoot. The larvae are found in humus and in or under mosses. They hunt for the larvae of other insects. The larvae of Phaonia tuguriorum apparently are fond of leather-jackets. The leather-jackets of the Europe Crane Fly (Tipula paludosa) are favoured. Phaonia tuguriorum lives in Europe, Asia, including Japan and Northern Africa. A very common species in England and Wales, a rather common species in Scotland.