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I have never heard that before. I seem to find it in all habitats, from the driest heath through to riversides...etc. There is no reason why water should be important to it, is there?
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Tachina fera turns up in all kinds of habitats including dry heathlands. As far as I can tell from looking at the distribution data, there is no particular association with water for this species, the larvae are parsitoids of tree feeding lepidopera larvae.
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Just to clarify for my own curiosity, why are tree feeding lepidoptera specified? Would that include all woody plants including heather? Just asking because the species is very common on the moorland I do a lot of recording on and there are no actual trees present?
It could very well be baseless information but Ive read it in a few places before, I agree it wouldnt appear to make much sense. One source I encountered before which I would need to track down again stated that this was an insect to be found near bodies of water, where this line of thought came from I have no idea.
The following is from Insects of Britain and Western Europe by Michael Chinery 2007 edition:
"Tachina fera......4-9 in woods and moist habitats: often abundant on waterside plants in late summer."
The first few reference materials I read on the species mentioned its occurance in proximity to water, this could have no basis in reality.
I found the original source of this notion I had about Tachina fera having some kind of relationship with water.
Maybe not surprisingly it is by the same author, M. Chinery in his 2005 volume, 'Complete British Insects'. Its almost word for word what I quoted above- "April-September, mainly in damp habitats and often basking on waterside vegetation."
As I said above, this isnt necessarily reliable and wouldnt appear to have an obvious explanation.
Tachina fera is fond of visiting flower such as Hemp Agrimony and Angelica that grow in damp situations, but they also appear in the middle of dry heathland. I think the "wetland plants" is one of those comments that has taken on a "life of its own" over the various iterations as different publications seek to say something "new" each time.
Larval hosts so far recorded include Dun Bar on Oak, Small Quaker on Oak and Common Quaker on Oak. Broom Moth is also a reported host, but it probably attacks a range of Noctuid species.
Broom moth are very common on the moorland I encounter Tachina fera on. Although there is water virtually everywhere on that moorland due to springs, lakes, ponds and streams, I,d say both broom moth and tachina fera would be there water or no water. T. fera could be parasitizing various other moth species there too?
I have seen T. fera in dry places. This one:
Was on the edge of the Hayes Common SSSI, which is mostly a particularly dry lichen heath. There is water about half a mile away.
Lat/Lng: 55.017, -6.023
OS grid ref: NW429765