Hoverfly Volucella pullucens

Hoverfly Volucella pullucens live in bee and wasp nests feeding off debris and scavenging dead and dying insects.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed an insect hovering around flowers that you presume is a bee or wasp, but on  closer inspection something is just not right? No pollen sacks? No sting? Most probably it’s a hoverfly.

Arctophila superbiens - the water filled hoof print one!

Arctophila superbiens - the water filled hoof print one!

Robert, as you may have gathered, has a keen interest in moths and bumble bees, but this year due to the awful weather they have done very badly. So unfortunately his numerous mothing and bee finding forays have been total washouts and he’s returned home empty handed and despondent. However during these expeditions he’s noticed that the hoverfly has actually done rather well; so the frustrated entomologist in him has found an alternative outlet – identifying and photographing hoverflies.

As yet unidentified

As yet unidentified - hoverfly feeding on Devil's-bit Scabious

Hoverflies, as their name suggests, are known for their hovering abilities.  Many of our 250 British species are brightly coloured, mimicking bees and wasps.  Although they themselves are quite harmless, having no sting, by this ruse they gain some protection from birds and other predators.  The adults are abundant on flowers for much of the year, feeding on both pollen and nectar, while the larvae live in rooting wood, compost heaps, stagnant water and so forth feeding largely on decaying organic matter.  A few, like Volucella pellucens, live in the nests of bees and wasps, scavenging dead and dying insects and other debris. And another, the Arctophila superbiens’ larvae, live in water filled hoofprint along shady muddy paths…no brownie points for knowing why this particular insect has thrived this year!

Not a hoverfly in sight! A meadow brown butterfly and carder bee nectering on knapweed.

Not a hoverfly in sight! A meadow brown butterfly and carder bee nectering on knapweed.