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.