It’s been ages since I shared any images of hoverflies, yet I photograph them almost every time I go wandering and the summer months are prime hover time, so let’s remedy my omission.
I’ve nicknamed this not-so-little hoverfly, Mr Scruffy, as it’s a bumblebee mimic and therefore rather furry, and oft times a little unkempt looking. It inhabits hedgerows and the shrubby edges of woodlands, and can frequently be seen feeding on the flowers of umbellifers – I see it most often on hogweed or sun-basking on nearby leaves.
With its striking and often very vibrant pattern of yellow, orange and black markings, Myathropa florea is easily identifiable and, though it flies from May to October, it seems to be the hoverfly I’m seeing most often right now. Like Mr Scruffy, it enjoys feasting on the umbellifer flowers that grow along woodland edges. Can you see why it’s often called the Batman hoverfly?
Now we come to the big boys (and girls) of the hoverfly world. Volucella inanis and its very similar friend Volucella zonaria (below) are hornet mimics but don’t worry – with their vibrant colouring they may look like hornets, but they’re harmless. V. inanis was once localised around London but is gradually spreading throughout Britain.
Volucella zonaria is a European hoverfly which, apparently, only got established in Britain in the 1940s. Since then it’s slowly been expanding its range, though I haven’t yet seen one in Wales. My photo was taken in Exeter in 2014, when I didn’t even know such things as hoverflies existed.
Also known as the Pellucid Fly, Volucella pellucens is quite easy to recognise, as it has a distinctive broad white band across its body. It also favours umbellifer flowers and, though it can be seen right through till October, it’s almost past its peak season so get out and see if you can find one.