This is the 600th insect species I have uploaded on Nature Journeys, and what a bright and beautiful one it is, too.
It is a fly, a hoverfly called Epistrophe grossulariae. It prefers woodland edges, meadows and wetalnd areas where it will feed on the nectar from flowers. The larvae are aphidophagous – feeding on aphids.
Long Hoverfly (Sphaerophoria scripta) – This is a male, and the abdomen is longer than the length of the forewing which helps readily identify this species. It was feeding on Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) in a local field. I was actually photographing the daisy to begin with when this beauty came along.
Merodon equestris – Despite the poor June weather here, this hoverfly decided to pay a visit. A very sprightly darter about the place fly it was, too. It is a bumblebee mimic, and comes in many varied forms which allows it to mimic different species of bee.
Syrphus sp. – I am fortunate to have many hoverfly visitors to the garden. This one was taking a break from all that hovering about by resting on a leaf of my crabapple. Double-click to see more detail.
Copyright: Peter Hillman Camera used: Nikon D7200 Date taken: 26th June 2019 Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire
This Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax) was quite comical to observe, because it really was quite a shy fly. It was basking on a leaf near my pond, and as I neared it instead of flying off like they do most of the time it crawled behind the leaf and peered out at me. When I turned my back it was out again on the surface of the leaf! I approached again, and it snuck behind the leaf again, just popping its head out.
Feel free to click the image to enlarge and click again to get even closer …
… well it’s not a Red-tailed Bumblebee which it is trying to mimic. It is a hoverfly called the Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris, also known as the Greater Bulb Fly. It knew the rain was on its way and had found a cosy covering under some spindle leaves.
Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …
By pure coincidence as I was photographing the garden pond for the previous blog to my joy I had this delightful little visitor alight on the Yellow Flag Iris.
It is called the Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus, and I had to do quite the balancing act, getting my socks wet more than once, to get these photos as it had landed on the Iris which is growing in the pond.
At first it appeared to be feeding or drinking water droplets from the flower, but it was also giving its back legs a good washing.
Whatever it was doing it certainly brightened up this rainy, grey leaden day for me 🙂
Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer
This apparent small blob of semi-translucent jelly is a hoverfly larva. I discovered this one on my roses, and it loves aphids and should help to keep their numbers down.
I don’t know what species it is, but it is quite amazing to think that after consuming hundreds of aphids in this stage it will grow into an adult similar to what can be seen below. It is called the Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus).
This is the first time I have seen this hoverfly here. I usually see similarly yellow marked flies, so this was quite something to see one with bright white markings. Note how the frons (that section in front of the eyes) bulges. That is a characteristic of this species. This is a fair-sized hoverfly with a wing length up to 12.5mm (0.5in).
This is a migratory species but it will breed locally if conditions are favourable. Seen mainly during the summer months almost everywhere, although scarcer further north. Found in meadows, hedgerows and gardens.
This hoverfly, the Narcissus Bulb Fly (Merodon equestris), must have been a tired fellow, for I found him quite still and resting on the arm of one of my garden chairs earlier this morning. His wings looked a little worse for wear and quite worn out. He must have done a fair few air miles.
This is one hoverfly that has eluded my camera until now. For a fly it is certainly a showy one with its shiny brassy-coloured and yellow markings. A relatively small hoverfly with a wing length of between 6.5 to 9.5mm, it is mainly seen in the spring, from March through to May, feeding on flowers or resting on vegetation. The larvae are aphidophagous, feeding on aphids found mainly on trees and shrubs, so a good one for the gardener. Found on woodland margins, in hedgerows and gardens. Common and widespread throughout most of Britain, although scarcer further north.
Epistrophe eligans female, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. April 2017.
This hoverfly looks remarkably like a bee, and exists in two different forms where var bomylans mimics the Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) and var plumata mimcis the White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum). It is distinguished from similar hoverflies by having a hairy body. Length 15mm.
The larvae are scavengers of wasp nests and feed on debris and even the host’s own larvae.
Seen May to August. Found in many habitats, including hedgerows and gardens. A widespread and common species.
A rather narrow hoverfly with a yellow face and distinctive yellow markings on the abdomen, two of them nearer the thorax are smaller than the others and almost triangular in shape. Length 9 to 12mm.
The terrestrial larvae feed on aphids, and the adults feed on nectar. The larvae are camouflaged to look like a bird dropping.
Seen April to September. Broadleaved woodland, hedgerows and scrub. The adults are often seen feeding on umbels or basking in the sun on vegetation on woodland margins, or even in gardens. Scarce but widely distributed in England, more frequent in the south, and scarcer further north.
On my walk to the local Beech wood this afternoon I passed some ivy in bloom on a roadside verge, and was quite amazed at how many hoverflies were busying themselves feeding of the sweet nectar and pollen.
I was also taken how the autumn sunlight appeared to make their colours richer.
They were that busy hovering around from flower to flower they were quite tricky to photograph.
Drone Fly Eristalis tenax. Local roadside verge, Staffordshire, England. October 2016.
Resembling a bee mimic to fool would-be predators just like the similar Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax), but Eristalis pertinax has a more tapering abdomen (especially the male), has pale yellow front and middle tarsi (feet), and lacks the dark facial stripe. Length 15mm.
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.
Flies March to November. They are found in various habitats, including flowery meadows, hedgerows, woodland margins, and especially numerous in flower-rich gardens. A common and widespread species.
A small and slender species of hoverfly where its markings can be fairly variable depending on the temperature the larvae develop in. Spring generations tend to be darker, whilst later generations are lighter and more well-defined. The yellow elliptical markings on tergite 2 help to distinguish the species from those similar. They can grow up to 9.5mm long.
The adults feed on nectar. The larvae feed on aphids off shrubs and trees.
Seen February to December. Found in wooded areas. Frequent and widespread in the south and the Midlands, scarcer elsewhere.
This hoverfly attempts to mimic a wasp and is fairly easy to identify with its bright yellow colour and distinctive dark markings, especially on the thorax which resembles a black skull or death mask. It can grow up to 15mm long.
The rat-tailed larvae live in rotten wood in water-filled holes in trees feeding on bacteria. The adults feed on nectar.
Seen May to October. Found mainly in wooded areas, the adults either sunning on vegetation or feeding on flowers. Abundant and widespread throughout the UK.
I discovered this brightly coloured hoverfly larva on my sweet pea doing its duty and eating an aphid. This one is not very big in size, but they come in all manner of shapes, sizes, patterns and colours, depending on the species. One thing is that those species that eat aphids have a huge appetite for them, helping the gardener keep the pest aphids at bay.
Update: Thanks to Mick E Talbot at his fabulous blog ‘My Garden Diversity’, who has helped me identify this hoverfly larva as Meligramma trianguliferum. Below is the only photo of the adult I have, which was taken in 2013.
It was late afternoon and the sun had retreated, but I noticed this lovely patterned hoverfly feeding on nectar on a shrub in my rear garden. Hoverflies have such beautiful and bright coloured markings, and are one of my favourite insects. Some people run from them because they look like wasps and bees and are frightened they may get a sting. Yet hoverflies are completely harmless, and they mimic wasps and bees for their own protection from predation. The larvae of these insects often eat aphids, so they are a good friend to have in the garden or the allotment.
The abdomen of the male of Sphaerophoria scripta is much longer than its wings, which is more apparent when it is at rest with its wings closed. The abdominal markings are usually four broad yellow bands, although this may vary. There is always a yellow stripe on each side of the thorax. Body length up to 22mm.
The adults are often seen hovering around flower heads in search of nectar on which they feed. The larvae feed on aphids.
Seen mainly July and August. Found on open grasslands, urban wasteland, parks and gardens. Common and widespread in England and Wales, less so further north.
Photographs taken August 2015, rear garden, Staffordshire.