Drone Fly

Eristalis tenax

A very regular visitor to my garden. The yellow-orange patches on the abdomen of this hoverfly helps make it mimic the male honeybee, and although they maybe quite variable, they help it keep predators at bay. The ground colour is darkish brown, and the body is covered in fine hairs. A broad, dark stripe running down the centre of the face is a key identifying feature. It also has a distinctly enlarged and curved hind tibia. It grows up to 16mm long. There are similar species, and one has to take care in identification.

The adults are often seen hovering around flower heads in search of nectar on which they feed. The larvae live in stagnant water and are called ‘rat-tailed maggots’ because they have a siphon which can extend to about 5cm long which they use as a snorkel so they can breathe under water whilst feeding on decaying organic material. When fully grown, the larvae leave the water and find a sheltered, drier habitat to pupate. The pupae are reddish-brown in colour and retains the long tail which makes it resemble a small rodent.

Found all year round as the females hibernate in the colder climes of winter, but will venture out on warmer days. They are found in various habitats, including flowery meadows, hedgerows, woodland margins, and especially numerous in flower-rich gardens. A common and widespread species.

Photographs taken March 2014, on front grass verge, and August 2015, rear garden Staffordshire.


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