Of the 250 different hoverfly species in Britain I now have photos of seven – just a wee way to go yet then. At least it’s still early in the season – hoverflies are normally around from March to November, and numbers tend to peak in the hottest months of summer. Here are my four new finds:
Rather deliciously called the Marmalade hoverfly, presumably not because it tastes good but because of the orange and black bands of colour on its upper abdomen. These give it a wasp-like appearance, which helps to deter predators but can scare people into thinking they’re a swarm of wasps when they group together. It’s the most common hoverfly in Britain, and large numbers also migrate here from Europe.
Like that previous one, I found this little guy enjoying the wood anemones at Cathays Cemetery. The cemetery has large numbers of mature trees, which is the perfect environment for Meliscaeva auricollis. This is one of the earliest hoverflies to wake from hibernation, sometimes appearing as early as January if the winter’s been mild.
Though its name literally means ‘Laddered Black-mouth’, this little creature’s common name is the Chequered hoverfly and you can perhaps just make out the chequerboard pattern on its upper abdomen. I found this one at Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve last weekend. It prefers open grassland, damp rather than dry, and is usually to be found flying and feeding close to ground level.
This was another find from Merthyr Mawr. Its common name is the Long hoverfly, presumably because, as you can see in my photo, the body of the male extends past the end of the wings which is unusual in hoverflies. This critter is a prolific breeder, with the ability to complete a full life cycle (eggs to adult) in just 16 days, which means up to 9 generations can occur in one year. Amazing!