Lumping all worms, fly larvae, leeches, flatworms and other worm like creatures which people are not very keen on is a bit unfair to these mostly harmless beasts.
Most flies don’t bite (not even most mosquitos), most leeches don’t suck blood (only one – the endangered Medicinal Leech, and even then its bite is painless) and most worms wouldn’t even hurt a fly because they eat mud.
But they do all look rather similar, and a bit wriggly. So it might come as a bit of a shock to realise that there are more different kinds of these creatures living in freshwater – especially the flies – than any other kind of animal.
So take a closer look at pretty yellow and black stripy hoverflies as they dash over the pond and the delicate little non-biting midges with their feathery antennae that are some of the earliest colonists and the beautiful transparent larvae of the phantom cranefly.
Flies and worms also get a bit of a bad reputation because as well as always being present in the nice ponds they can live in some pretty horrible looking places too. They are nature’s hoovers for rotting organic matter. But this is such a diverse group of animals that you can find just about every possible different way of living amongst them: from docile grazers to fierce predators.
One of our favourite animals is the larva of the furry bee mimicking hoverfly – the Drone Fly. Its telescopic snorkel tail is a great way of getting oxygen amongst rotting vegetation that is naturally lacking in this essential gas. But the name we give these creatures does them no favours: rat-tailed maggots. Poor things, it’s not really going to endear them to most people!