These animals look like cars parked in the autumn sunshine. They look harmless enough, but they have some gruesome secrets.
What are they and what are they doing? They are called cluster flies, and they are warming their bodies in the sun, before flying to feed on the fruits of the wood.
They are having adventures in time and space in Nowhere Wood. Life in the wood is dangerous and the animals are busy being alive: feeding, drinking and staying warm.
The animals certainly look like flies: with one pair of wings, a large head and huge compound eyes. Look closer and you might see their mouthparts, sucking water from the surface of the leaf.
The flies have lived their whole lives in Nowhere Wood. Their mothers laid their eggs in the soil last autumn. In the Spring, the eggs hatched to release larvae into the soil that burrowed into the bodies of earthworms.
They spent the early summer feeding on the worms before pupating. The adults emerged in the early summer, killing their earthworm hosts.
Then the cycle of ‘being and becoming’ will begin again.
There is safety in numbers. The main predator of these flies is a type of wasp. There are twenty pairs of eyes looking out for danger and when one senses the wasps, they all fly away.
Life is so uncertain in Nowhere Wood. As well as wasps, the air contains the spores of dangerous fungi, that can infect and grow inside the adults, eating them up from the inside! In spite of the dangers, enough cluster flies survive to breed to be present in the wood next year.
Life is an uncertain adventure for the cluster flies, the earthworms, the wasps and the fungi. Everything is connected in Nowhere Wood.
- Suggest why cluster flies need to warm their bodies in the morning, before they can fly.
- Suggest why there is safety in numbers.