I admit to not taking as many photos of hoverflies this year as last. This is partly due to an overwhelming fascination with everything, meaning I tend not to focus on one family for long (I’m sure this will pass once I’ve lived in Britain a few more years and have seen a lot of the more common species of everything), but also because the area where I now live has less hoverfly-friendly habitats. Still, I do photograph them when I see them, especially any newbies. Here are a few …
Leucozona glaucia and Leucozona laternaria
These are not hoverflies I see very often but they are quite distinctive and that makes them easy to identify, not something you can say about many invertebrates. They’re woodland species but can often be found grazing on the hogweed flowers that frequently grow along woodland rides and edges. The two species are almost identical, except for the colour of their front legs (not always easily seen) and their scutellum (much easier – that’s the half moon shaped bit on their backs between their wings). The scutellum is yellow in Leucozona glaucia (above left) and dark in L. laternaria (above right).
This medium-sized hoverfly looks a lot like a bumblebee, but the shape of its head and its large eyes are easy ways to tell that it’s not. In their top-notch field guide Britain’s Hoverflies, Stuart Ball and Roger Morris note that Merodon equestris is ‘believed to have been introduced into Britain in daffodil bulbs imported from Europe around the end of the 19th century’. That’s because the larvae of this hoverfly develop inside bulbs and have a particular liking for daffodils.
Xylota segnis and Xylota sylvarum
These are just two of the seven members of the Xylota genus – I have yet to see the others. With their lanky legs, they look a bit like sawflies and they also prefer gathering pollen and honeydew from leaves rather than flowers, so they’re not your run-of-the-mill hoverflies. I find these quite difficult to tell apart but X. segnis has a black bottom (above left) whereas X. sylvarum’s is yellow (above right) (not easy to see when they’re resting and covering their bottoms with their wings, as in my photo).