Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Summer Hoverfly identification

Late summer brings out masses of hoverflies in the garden. They buzz around the fennel and the wild rocket and the red valerian. Despite their superficial similarity - many are stripy yellow and black - there are 276 British hoverfly species (family Syrphidae). With a little attention to detail, though, and armed with a good identification guide (I use British Hoverflies, by Alan Stubbs and Steven Falk) it is relatively easy to identify them, although there are several species complexes hard to ID to species level. The following nine species are amongst the most common in gardens in July and August. On the top photo, the, by far commonest, Episyrphus balteatus, the marmalade fly, hovering. This is a very distinctive species, due to its double abdominal dark bands. Individuals can occur in large aggregations, and are found in groups on dandelion flowers.
Sphaerophoria sp. a male on Erysimum
Female Sphaerophoria sp. on fennel.
 Scaeva pyrastri, female hovering and Red Valerian
another Scaeva pyrastri on wild rocket
Syrphus on Large Bindweed. This is another very common species.
Female syrphus on Erysimum
Platycheirus scutatus on Japanese Anemone
Myathropa florea sunbathing.
The tiny Syritta pipiens, with distinctive swollen back femurs, on Nipplewort
Eupeodes luniger hovering on Herb Robert
The dronefly Eristalis tenax feeding on Lavender

2 comments:

Ray said...

Impressive collection of plants in your garden!

I find this is good little introduction to UK Syrphids:
http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artmay07/cd-hoverflies.html

(tho' it fails to cover Volucella zonaria and V. inanis - our most impressive hovers. )

Blackbird said...

Thank you Ray, your comments always add something interesting! That site is great - although I agree that the missing Volucellas would be worth adding.