Doug Mackenzie Dodds - Images | Dung flies and the Pope's testicles.

Dung flies and the Pope's testicles.

April 07, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I was checking my newly-dug, newly-sanded, newly-manured buddleja bed in the sun this afternoon and was admiring not only my handiwork (it was solid clay, this border and took me many hours to sort by hand), but also the yellow dung flies dancing about the bed’s manure and hen droppings.


Suddenly, an almost neon-yellow dung fly flew in and alighted on a nice pile of poo. Oh surrrre…. I know the common name for this fly is the “yellow dung fly”, (or more aptly I think, the “golden dung fly” - I’ve always thought they’re more of a buff-yellow, an orange yellow, a dirty golden yellow) – but this was a radioactive custard yellow, this strange beastie that had just flown in.


I was convinced I’d found a new species, and so set about trying to photograph this bright yellow dung fly. This (of course for me) involved lying in the manure and duller dung flies, in my shorts and sandals, waiting for the one bright yellow beastie to come to my camera.


It took its time though. I am aware that the male golden dung flies are so-coloured and furry, but the females are far less furry, far less golden and far more… green, but this (obviously male (furry)) dung fly was getting mistaken for a female by the look of the duller males all jumping on his back, preventing him from lining up for his mug shot, courtesy of me.


Eventually he crawled over to my camera and I got a shot or two – thinking my old zoology tutors would finally be proud of me, as I put my name to the newest species of dung fly to be found in the UK. (I’d rather a mammal or even a fish, but a dung fly is better than nothing, no?).



I should really have remembered that whereas the larvae of the golden dung fly eats dung, the adult flies feed on nectar and pollen as well as other insects, rather than dung.


A close look at my photo of this bright yellow dung fly’s head (and body) revealed that it was covered in bright yellow pollen – very probably from a pussy willow or similar.

My newly-found species and therefore newly-found fame would have to wait.


Incidentally, the scientific name for our golden dung flies is: Scathophaga stercoraria, which literally means (as far as I can make out): “dung-eating, of the dung (niche)” - oh to be a larval dung fly eh?


Now then.

I promised you the Pope's testicles.

Or the Papal bull(ocks), if you wish.

Please read on…


You might just have heard of “stercoraria” before?

I would assume so, if you’re a Catholic.

The Pope will have certainly heard of a stercoraria – or more exactly, the “Sedia stercoraria”, which literally translates as “the seat of dung”.


Looking a bit like a commode, the Papal “dung seat”, isn’t a commode at all, or even a “seat of dung”, but a seat (a throne if you will) where any new (male) Pope must sit, (I said sit!) without underwear on, and be touched up from beneath by the luckiest Cardinal of all (I’m sure they queue up for the role).

This rite of passage takes place to establish beyond doubt that any new Pope, pre-election, still had a ripe pair of dangly goolies and hadn’t been forced into self-castration, whereupon the lucky Cardinal would cry:

“Pontificalia habet et bene pendentes, dignum est papali coroni!”

(“He has pontifical equipment, they are hanging well, worthy is thy papal crown”).

You don’t believe me? Here you go.



There you are then.

A nice story involving dung flies and the Pope’s testicles. You're more than welcome.


What's that you say?

I see.

All I'd say in that case then, is that if YOU don't spend the occasional sunny afternoon lying in manure, thinking about the Pope's testicles like I did this afternoon... well all I can say is ...YOU'RE the weird one!

Have a lovely tea tonight, grapple fans.





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