Readers’ wildlife photographs

Put your hands together for reader Dom, who sacrificed his very blood so that readers could learn some natural history. His words:

One Saturday a few weeks ago in Norfolk I gave blood so that WEIT readers could see a cleg [JAC: “cleg” is British argot for “horsefly”]! Haematopota pluvialis – I love green eyes – isn’t she beautiful (yes, a female) ?!

These bloodsuckers are expert at landing on you so you cannot feel them.  You are most likely to get them near livestock, but this one found me while I was photographing ringlet butterflies…

Cleg 1

Cleg 2

When I asked Dom whether the bite itself was painless, he answered, “Yes – painless.  They are very good at doing it so you do not notice – you get a bump & itching afterwards – in my case it took 24 hours to appear.  It is not easy using the camera with one hand!”

Cleg 4

Cleg 3

Here’s a photo of horsefly eyes that Dom found on WildGuideUK. The fly above is in the left column, second row:

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 1.28.38 AM

Finally, on a less sanguinary note, reader Anne-Marie sent a picture of a male American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) feeding on the seeds of a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).



  1. Sigmund
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I’ve always found horsefly bites to be very painful.
    In me they don’t result in much itching afterwards but I certainly notice them at the biting stage!

    • Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      Me too; but my experience is with US horseflies.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink

        Same here but even some biting flies other than horseflies. Much worse are the Chiggers (Trombiculidae). You do not know they got you until it is too late and the itching is insane. You don’t get to take pictures unless you have an extreme camera.

        • Dominic
          Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          Perhaps you are all delicate & sensitive while I am an unfeeling oaf! 😉

    • Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      The horseflies in Germany (tabanus sudeticus) are also very painful the moment they bite. You feel a strong sting that make you wince, and moments later you want to hit them or shake them off (they often land on your back when you come out of a pond after swimming).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      Ouch me too! Here they will take a bit of flesh off with them. Horse flies are the worst – even worse than deer flies!

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Yes, very painful! And as flies like my body odor, I am always the first one to ‘discover’ them. :-/

      I didn’t even know that these flies technically attempt to suck blood. [ ] In my experience they will remove some meat, and I thought that was their feed.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      I’ve always found that clegs can sneak up and bite you completely painlessly – until a few minutes later, and then pain and itching for a couple of days! There must be a difference between them and US & German horseflies.

    • Mark R.
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:14 am | Permalink

      No-See-Ums…’nough said.

    • jonathancherryburn
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 6:59 am | Permalink

      In my experience with British clegs, you don’t feel them land but you generally do feel them bite. Compared to the hypodermic syringe of a mosquito they have a rather messy bite which often produces quite an itchy, painful reaction. I admire Dom’s self-control in resisting the urge to swat the fly as it completes its blood meal!

  2. SA Gould
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Out in the south suburbs of Chicago they are bigger than cicadas, I live a mile from a forest preserve. They’re highly visible and super aggressive. I’ve had them try to attack me through a car windshield. One tried four times, in the same spot. Sounded like a rock hitting the windshield.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I come across these giant ones too. I suspect they are after the car, since it gives off heat and CO2 they think it is a big mammal.

      • SA Gould
        Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:30 pm | Permalink


    • Christopher
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

      There are some pretty vicious ones that live in southern Missouri, at a beautiful place known as the Johnson Shut-ins. Oddly, though, they are absent at the place in the river and rocks where all the tourists are, but float down just past that for a little peace and quiet and BAM! you get nailed by the hordes! They are not small and are in no way painless! I’ve never experienced the ones you speak of, at least in the forest preserves in and around Yorkville, Il which I visited when I lived there for a summer but I certainly recognize the tactics.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    AAAAH! The only thing worse than that horsefly is the black / yellow triangular shaped one. If take a mosquito bite over them any time.

    Goldfinches are always easily spooked – can’t get a good pic. Also they are up on high flowers. Haven’t gotten a good camera setup yet.

  4. Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Nice one of the goldfinch Anne-Marie.

    Our local ones are on our (profuse) Echinacea as well.

    • Anne-Marie Cournoyer
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 7:37 am | Permalink


  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Way to take one for the team, Dom! [clap clap clap]. I am glad it did not hurt.
    Never been ‘et by a horsefly (that I know about). But damn I hate stable flies. Their bite does hurt.

    • Dominic
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      On one visit to Norway I was bitten a couple of times in Lofoten – again never noticed. If you feel it they fail as they will be brushed off.

  6. John
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Painless my ass!

    I was shit scared of clegs as a child. Approaching a mild phobia I would say.

    Seeing this one now does me no good at all.

    I hate taking sentient life but I’ll instinctively batter the hell out of these if they come anywhere near me.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      According to Wikipedia, Horse-flies are found worldwide, except for the polar regions, but they are absent from some islands such as Greenland, Iceland, and Hawaii. so we know where we need to move!!

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Me too!

  7. Ken Pidcock
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I’ve said this before, but I don’t care to be shown photographs of a tabanid feeding without evidence that it was subsequently killed.

    • Dominic
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      You heartless fellow Ken! 😦

  8. bluemaas
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Lovely ! the goldfinch and coneflower: Iowa is a northern territory that is native for both species, the Eastern (or American) Goldfinch its state bird. And of the finches’ diet of almost entirely seeds, if one cannot afford their favored and rather pricey thistle ones, then goldfinches are quite attracted to coneflowers and other aster species.

    Nice pix, Ms Cournoyer: sunshine – yellow along with (at its least, teas’ placebo – ) immunity boosting petal – ly echinacea parts !


    • Anne Marie Cournoyer
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 7:39 am | Permalink

      Thank you !

    • Anne-Marie Cournoyer
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 7:40 am | Permalink


  9. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Not that I fancy flies, and especially not “broms”, or “hästbroms” (horse “broms”) as we called the big ones when I grew up.

    But this was interesting: apparently “klegg” is the norwegian name, which is used in parts of Sweden too. [ ]

    [i]Haematopota pluvialis[/i] is regnbroms (rain “broms”), described by Linné. [ ]

    • Lars
      Posted August 11, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      “Clegg” was the name applied by my Scottish uncle to the deerflies he encountered when we took him up to Muskoka for a holiday on the lake. Scots English has a lot of archaisms in it, and some of them sound like they are cognates with words in the Scandinavian tongues – “kirk” for “church”, for instance.

      I wonder if the name was brought over to the British Isles by Scandinavian settlers during the period of Viking colonization,and got absorbed into English (or Anglo-Saxon, I guess, at that time).

      • Dominic
        Posted August 12, 2016 at 3:43 am | Permalink

        Yes, it is indeed from Old Norse, kleggi.

  10. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 11, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Bloody clegs. Just about the only insect that has had the temerity to bit me and actually raise a welt within minutes.
    They certainly don’t go unnoticed by me.

    • Dominic
      Posted August 12, 2016 at 3:43 am | Permalink


  11. Posted August 11, 2016 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Love all these photos and the others posted earlier this week. Thanks a bunch!

  12. Mark R.
    Posted August 12, 2016 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Holy Shit…if ever JAC put up a contest for the best RWPs, this would have to make the cut.

    The criteria is always good photos coupled by good scientific learning.

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