The 600

x3 images. Double click to enlarge.

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.

Balance


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.


Long Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta male

Double-click image for a closer look.


For further interest visit the ‘Hoverflies’ page.


Like Polished Metal


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.


Syrphus sp.

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 26th June 2019
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


Playing Hide & Seek

Drone Fly Eristalis tenax

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 …

September 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Hoverfly

Drone Fly Eristalis tenax

Drone Fly Eristalis tenax

Drone Fly Eristalis tenax

Drone Fly Eristalis tenax

Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …


Drone Fly Eristalis tenax, June 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

What It’s Not

Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris

… 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.

Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris

Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …


June 2019, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Chequered Hoverfly Melanostoma scalare

Chequered Hoverfly Melanostoma scalare

Chequered Hoverfly Melanostoma scalare

Chequered Hoverfly Melanostoma scalare

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


Female of the species, September 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman.

Return of The Sun Fly

Sun Fly Helophilus pendulus

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


Sun Fly Helophilus pendulus resting on a stone on the edge of my garden pond. May 2018, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm.

 

Let’s Have Some Marmalade!

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

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.

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

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.

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

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.

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Whatever it was doing it certainly brightened up this rainy, grey leaden day for me 🙂

Marmalade Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


May 2018, garden pond, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman Sigma 18-300mm with AML72-01 achromatic macro lens and Sigma 105mm macro lens. Yep, it even gave me time to change lenses between shots.

Hoverfly Larva

Hoverfly larva

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).

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

May 2018, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. © Pete Hillman

Britain’s Largest Hoverfly The Hornet Hoverfly

Hornet Hoverfly Volucella zonaria

Measuring almost 2cm (almost 2 inches) long, this is our largest hoverfly. It is called Hornet Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria), and it was enjoying itself amid the blooms of my Buddleia.

Hornet Hoverfly Volucella zonaria

Hornet Hoverfly Volucella zonaria

July 2017, rear garden, Staffordshire, England.

Nature’s Way

Sun Fly Helophilus pendulus mating


Sun Fly (Helophilus pendulus) mating, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

In The Pink

Thick-legged Hoverfly Syritta pipiens

Thick-legged Hoverfly (Syritta pipiens), on rose.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.

Pied Hoverfly

Scaeva pyrastri

Pied Hoverfly Scaeva pyrastri

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.

The larva feeds on aphids.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

A Tired Visitor

Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris

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.

Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris

Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris

Narcissus Bulb Fly Merodon equestris


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

The Sun Fly Returns

Sun Fly Helophilus pendulus

The hoverfly, Sun Fly (Helophilus pendulus), is back and landing on rocks around my garden pond. It appears it may well be a regular visitor.

Sun Fly Helophilus pendulus


May 2017, Staffordshire, England.

Tapered Drone Fly II

Tapered Drone Fly Eristalis pertinax

Tapered Drone Fly Eristalis pertinax

Tapered Drone Fly Eristalis pertinax

Please click on images for a larger more detailed view.


Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax), rear garden, Staffordshire, England. April 2017.

Epistrophe eligans

Epistrophe eligans

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


Epistrophe eligans female, rear garden, Staffordshire, England. April 2017.

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) IV

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Another insect was attracted to the early spring sweet offering from the Lesser Celadine. Another fly, with the delightful name of the Marmalade Hoverfly.

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Early Spring Risers

German Wasp Vespula germanica

Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax)

Red Mason Bee Osmia bicornis female

Here are three early spring risers which I found warming themselves on shrubbery at the bottom of my garden. Please click on images for better definition.

Making The Most of The Fading Blossoms

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Early November and this hoverfly is making the most of the fading rose blooms.

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Photograph of Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) taken November 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Nikon 18-55mm lens. Manual setting ISO 100. 1/200 sec. f/6.3. No flash, hand-held.

Chequered Hoverfly

Melanostoma scalare

Chequered Hoverfly (Melanostoma scalare)

A fairly small and slender black and bright yellow patterned hoverfly. Length 8 to 10mm.

The larvae are predators in leaf litter. The adults feed on nectar.

Seen April to November. Found mainly in grassy areas or along woodland rides. Abundant and widespread throughout the UK.

Photograph 0f Chequered Hoverfly (Melanostoma scalare) taken May 2014, local woodland ride , Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Volucella bombylans

Volucella bombylans

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.

Volucella bombylans

The larvae are scavengers of wasp nests and feed on debris and even the host’s own larvae.

Volucella bombylans

Seen May to August. Found in many habitats, including hedgerows and gardens. A widespread and common species.

Photographs 0f Volucella bombylans taken June 2012, local woodland margin, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2012. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Meligramma trianguliferum

Meligramma trianguliferum

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.

Photograph 0f Meligramma trianguliferum taken May 2013, local woodland margin, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2013. Camera used Nikon Coolpix P500.

Autumn Air Still Buzzing

Eristalis intricarius

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.

Eristalis intricarius

They were that busy hovering around from flower to flower they were quite tricky to photograph.

Eristalis intricarius


Drone Fly Eristalis tenax. Local roadside verge, Staffordshire, England. October 2016.

More Marmalade

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)

Photographs of Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus), taken July 2015, rear garden , Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2015. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Tapered Drone Fly

Eristalis pertinax

Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax)

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.

Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax)

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.

Photographs of Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax) taken April 2014, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Meliscaeva auricollis

Meliscaeva auricollis

Meliscaeva auricollis

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.

Meliscaeva auricollis

Meliscaeva auricollis

Seen February to December. Found in wooded areas. Frequent and widespread in the south and the Midlands, scarcer elsewhere.

Meliscaeva auricollis

Photographs of Meliscaeva auricollis taken May and June 2014, front and rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Dead Head Fly

Myathropa florea

Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea)

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.

Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea)

The rat-tailed larvae live in rotten wood in water-filled holes in trees feeding on bacteria. The adults feed on nectar.

Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea)

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.

Photographs of Dead Head Fly (Myathropa florea), taken August 2016, local canal towpath, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

The Gardener’s Best Friend

Meligramma trianguliferum

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.

Photograph  taken of hoverfly Meligramma trianguliferum larva in August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.


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.

Meligramma trianguliferum

Beautiful Fly Likes To Chillax

This is the Hornet Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria), which has a thing about resting on my foliage in bright sunshine. Or …

… resting and cleaning itself clinging to the back of one of my hanging baskets, sheltering from the rain.

To learn more about this relaxed fly please visit the Hornet Hoverfly page.

 

 

Long Hoverfly

Sphaerophoria scripta

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.