Downpour ends reign of horde of the flies in Kirkcaldy

St Mark's fly
St Mark's fly

Swat teams were out in force in Kirkcaldy earlier this week as the town was hit by swarms of flies!

Thousands of the insects, identified by a Fife expert as St Mark’s flies, flew around the town centre, and light coloured cars and clothing were a prime target.

Tuesday saw the numbers reach their peak before thunderstorms in the afternoon with downpours of rain washed the majority away.

Dr David Shuker, an insect expert at St Andrews University, explained that the flies were so named as they tended to emerge around St Mark’s Day (April 25), in England, and slightly later in Scotland.

“There are several species from the same family, bibio marci, and this is the most common,” he said.

“They all tend to emerge as adults simultaneously for a few days, mate and then the female goes off and lays her eggs and they all die off, so they are only around for a short time.

“In this case it seems that the conditions have all come together to make it ideal for them to come out in huge numbers at the one time, and there do seem to have been more than usual.

“The larvae live in the soil and eat the plant roots and vegetation and exactly why there are so many around now we can never be sure. They are totally harmless and wonderful insects and you can tell the males because their whole heads are made up of two huge eyes while the females have much smaller eyes.

“It has been slightly drier than usual lately and also reasonably warm, so that may be reasons why they have done so well this year.”

The swarms in the High Street were a topic of conversation among the many shoppers.

“My car was just completely covered in them, and many of them seemed to be using it as a mating place,” said one woman.

Another, who was wearing a light-coloured top said she had been a target for them.

“They were all over my top and in my hair,” she said.

The majority of the flies had disappeared by Wednesday.