No one said it would be easy

Female Eristalis tenax (c) Duncan Hutt

Female Eristalis tenax (c) Duncan Hutt

Hoverflies are a rather daunting group of insects to get to grips with.  With 281 British species to learn you have to start somewhere. So far with 13 species recorded this year it’s not even 5% of those it’s possible to find though, of course, some are very rare and not found in Northumberland at all.

Anyway the flowering privet provided a sheltered sunny spot for a number of hoverflies to feed on the abundance of pollen, both in the flowers but also scattered across the leaves.  Some hoverflies feed by picking up dropped pollen from leaves but most do venture into flowers.

Male Eristalis tenax on privet (c) Duncan Hutt

Male Eristalis tenax on privet (c) Duncan Hutt

A number of hoverflies were, like most hoverflies, trying to be something else, that is they mimic other species.  This large bee-mimic may not be a perfect match but must be good enough for its purposes.  It’s an Eristalis, a fairly complicated group of species that look very similar but this has a few distinctive features.  The hind tibia is large, curved and hairy, it has a broad dark face stripe and, perhaps most oddly, has a vertical stripe of dark hairs down the eye.  Like other hoverflies the male’s eyes touch while those of the female do not.  These features make it Eristalis tenax, a widespread species across the UK (and indeed the world) which has a peak of activity in August.

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About thehutts

The Hutt Family from Northumberland
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