The Uppermost Aristocracy of the Hoverfly Society Fredrik Sjöberg had been hunting for hoverflies for 30 years. But his collection wasn't complete without the rare and beautiful Callicera fly.
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The Uppermost Aristocracy of the Hoverfly Society

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The Uppermost Aristocracy of the Hoverfly Society

The Uppermost Aristocracy of the Hoverfly Society

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This summer, we're bringing you stories about bugs for our series What's Bugging You? The bug that bugs most people? The fly, of course, but one Swedish man has spent three decades chasing after flies. He's collected hundreds of examples of hoverflies. That's a family of fly that looks more like a bee or a wasp. What kind of person would do such a thing?

FREDRIK SJOBERG: My name is Fredrik Sjoberg, and I've been an amateur entomologist all my life. I was very small, maybe 4 or 5 years old, when I started to kill insects and collect them. And as all entomologists, I stopped when I was around 15, 16, for the simple reason that it's very difficult to make an impression on girls with dead insects.

But then I got into it again when I had a family of my own. I started to collect flies - hoverflies. Hoverflies look like someone else, mostly like wasps or other insects that could harm you.

The place I live since 30 years is an island in the archipelagos of Stockholm called Runmaro. It's a wonderful island with nine lakes and huge forests. So I have this house by the lake, and there are thousands of hoverflies, but I don't have to run around to find them.

I had been collecting hoverflies on this island for so many years, and I had discovered almost all of them. But in a way, I was a bit fed up with it because I could spend a whole summer without finding any new species. And then one day, I found the Callicera. Callicera is - those are among the rarest and most mystical hoverflies in the world. They are big and colored in gold and brass, very metallic.

The story about the Callicera goes - I had been to a party the day before. So in the morning - early in the morning - I had a hangover, but I decided anyway to take a walk. I didn't bring my net, so I only had this pooter, a small sucking instrument, if I happened to find some interesting fly.

My kids once tried to describe this instrument as something in between a piccolo flute and an opium pipe. And I was standing there in this morning sun, and suddenly I saw the first Callicera all my life. And in one second I got sober and I just concentrated to catch it.

Collecting things is a matter of bragging, making an impression on others. And it's more or less difficult to make an impression on people with flies. But another Swedish hoverfly collector and I - we formed the Callicera Club because he also had one. And we meet once in a while to eat good food and drink expensive wines, so this is the uppermost aristocracy of the hoverfly society.

SIMON: That was Fredrik Sjoberg, author of "Fly Trap" and apparently a member of the exclusive Callicera Club.

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