I love hoverflies. I’ve admired them since I first started gardening. I’d decided at the time that I was going to garden organically and I’d read about how one should encourage beneficial insects into the garden in order to control pests such as aphids. Among the beneficial insects were ladybirds and hoverflies. At that time, seeing a ladybird was a rare occurence, but in the garden I’d noticed these small darting insects which resembled small wasps and was surprised to discover that they didn’t sting but that they would help control aphids if you provided the right type of plants. They are also important pollinators of plants.
Some years there don’t seem to be many around but other years there seem to be quite a few. There are lots in the garden at the moment, and they seem to enjoy a variety of plants including euphorbias, petunias and my favourite – the Giant Scabious.
This is a photograph of a marmalade hoverfly or ‘Episyrphus balteatus’ – a common hoverfly in the UK – lapping up nectar from the Giant Scabious. The larvae eat the aphids which are plentiful on the stems of the buds of this plant. They are slightly easier to photograph than bees as – once they are used to you being around – they will settle on a plant a little longer than a bee. I have a few photographs of hoverflies but this is the clearest so far. I’ve added a slideshow below of some of the other shots which might aid in identification of this species.