Since my last Hoverfly post (13072021) I've discovered even more varieties in my garden and I'm wondering if this is a reflection on my gardening approach or simply a bumper year for Hoverflies.
And now I'm really entering the realms of "I have no idea what I am talking about!"
Take this one for example. I first spotted it on the Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum?) which has self seeded in the mini meadow - a lovely plant for insects, although I was initially warned it could be quite invasive, this doesn't appear to be the case as yet. At first glance the insect looked very similar to a small buff-tailed bumble bee worker, also feeding on a neighbouring flowerhead, but there was something about the way it moved. Birders talk about the jizz or giss (the overall impression or appearance of a bird garnered from such features as shape, posture, flying style or other habitual movements, size and colouration combined with voice, habitat and location) and this applies to insects as well.
This one exhibited quite jerky movements as it took off and flew away, and once I could get in closer it clearly has the wrong eyes, no waist and only a single set of wings. It's a fly then ... and based on experience, probably a hoverfly. And that's when it started to get difficult. The first picture search pulled up Volucella bombylans, which seemed reasonable as it's a bumblebee lookalike but after further research I realise it has the wrong tail colour and should probably be Volucella plumata (via Naturespot) . Then a different search came up with Eristalis intricarius, and it could easily be the female shown here. At which point I'm going to give up and just say it's a Hoverfly that mimics a Bumblebee and I'm excited to see one in my garden.
Another new one for me....
I'm pretty sure this one is an Eristalis but no idea which... and please don't quote me! I realise I need to find a reliable forum which will identify them.
Then I was hugely excited to see this one, which as you can see from this angle, looks very much like a Hornet:
There's two similar Hornet lookalikes and close inspection leads me to believe this is Volucella inanis rather than V. zonaria according to the description on Naturespot
As a parasite of Wasp larvae, including Hornets, this may explain the lack of Wasps in my garden this year?
The next one was spotted amongst the honeybees and, although rounder and with the usual fly attributes, it was quite difficult to spot the difference unless you looked a bit closer:
According to the Wildlife Trust website this is a Drone-fly, probably Eristalis tenax. Apparently recent research has found that these Hoverflies not only look like Honeybees but have also developed the same moves and flight patterns. Ivy flowers are important for overwintering adults.
And now the pièce de résistance ... while chasing the Drone-fly around trying to get a decent photo it zipped off the leaf and revealed .....
If I had known then what I know now
I would have started this diary years ago
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