Wednesday 23 July 2014

Insects in flight

Today it was a summery, hot day, with a light breeze, ideal for insect watching. Somehow, I managed a few decent in flight shots, which usually evade me as I am not patient enough. The first one happened when I spotted two hovering Volucella pellucens. They are large hoverflies, which live near trees and are identifiable even at several meters of distance due to their translucent abdominal belt. Males hover incessantly on the same spot, and inspect or chase off other hoverflies and even speckled woods invading their territory, so maybe this way they spot female hoverflies to mate. Hoverflies also hover during courtship. I tried to encourage them to sit on my finger by slowly raising it towards the hoverfly. This technique often works with hovering males, like this Eristalis intricarius from yesterday shows:
but the Volucella refused several times...
So I tried to get some shots while it hovered and got the shot at the top of the post, and I was pretty pleased with that!
 A bit later, then, in my street, a couple of migrant hawkers were hunting over the verges. Migrant hawkers often hunt together with other individuals, and they may settle to bask near each other. They tend to hunt from 4-5 m above ground. I managed some records shots, this one the best.
I popped in the wildlife garden later to release a grasshopper (a matter for a different post) and watched a large Ectemnius digger wasp (probably the common E. cavifrons) inspecting a rotten log. She had to fend off a Tegenaria spider. Ectemnius are hoverfly hunters and are skilful hovers. Females dig their nests in soft wood, and look by suitable nest sites, often hovering in front of the wood. This allowed me an opportunity for the third flight shot for the day.

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