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Rare Phantom hoverfly discovered in Chilterns habitat

Phantom hoverfly Image copyright National Trust/PA
Image caption The Phantom hoverfly is believed to have been spotted for the first time in the Chilterns by insect expert Peter Brash

A hoverfly so rarely seen it is known as 'the Phantom' has been spotted on the Chiltern Hills in Bedfordshire.

The insect was discovered at Ivinghoe Beacon by National Trust entomologist Peter Brash.

He believes it is the first recorded sighting of the species in the Chilterns.

The rare sighting of the fly, which is listed as a priority for conservation action, fulfils a decades-long ambition for the insect expert.

"Nobody knows much about this enigmatic hoverfly," he said.

"I first saw a picture of the Phantom hoverfly 23 years ago and immediately wanted to see it.

"Some say it only survives for around 10 days as an adult, whilst others say that it stays in the tree canopy and only descends to the ground to breed."

The Phantom is rare to Britain because its preferred habitat of scrub near woodland on chalk is uncommon.

Mr Brash said perfect conditions for the insect had been created at the trust's Ashridge Estate.

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