Wednesday 24 August 2011

Swift hoverfly settled down for the night

This hoverfly species, Scaeva pyrastri, is a challenging photographic subject. I find it particularly flighty, and many a time I have chased it across the garden as it fed on Verbena bonairensis, Buddleia, Hebe or Red Valerian. It is very aware of shapes approaching, and it cunningly and swiftly flies out of range. You really have to stalk it for close ups. S. pyrastri is a migrant hoverfly which flies from the continent to rear a generation in northern Europe and all my records are of July and August, of single individuals. Their numbers vary greatly from year to year. It is a large, handsome hoverfly, males giving the impression of having a disproportionately larze head (as above) due to their enormous eyes, which are distinctively hairy, and like in other hoverflies meet on top of their heads. The species has very characteristic white markings in the black abdomen. Adults are found in a range of flowers, while the larvae feeds on ground aphids. This male had chosen to settle in the startlingly red rowan berries and it allowed me to approach to the minimum focusing distance of my camera.

1 comment:

RayHolden said...

Delightful shot!
They are so hard to capture with a camera.

Whilst I've found this year to be very disappointing for Syrphids in general, S. pyrastri does appear to have had a good year with reports of sightings of large numbers appearing in the UK-hoverflies Yshoo Group.
E.g. " In a large field in South Oxfordshire today, rough grassland with various flowering plants, an estimated several thousand Scaeva pyrastri were visiting Upright Hedge-parsley..." - August-5.

I was seeing a fair number in S. Yorks at about that time, but since Aug-11 I've been down on the Surry/London borders and haven't seen a single one; or much else for that matter :( .