Hoverfly Admiration

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.

Wikipedia has an excellent ‘poster’ of the main types of hoverfly which is how I identified this one. The Natural History Museum also has some good information.

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18 thoughts on “Hoverfly Admiration

  1. Ooooh…what big eyes you have…Mr. Hoverfly! They do look like vicious stinging wasps – but I’m glad that they turn out to be much more helpful little hoverflies instead! Anything that gets rid of aphids get my vote!

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    • Yes – I think it’s quite common to mistake them for wasps. This type is quite small though and they have a quick, darting type of movement – they are also quiet. They developed their similarity to wasps and bees as a defence mechanism against possible predators.

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  2. You put a lot into your photos, not just the photos thems, but the research which goes along with them to tell us what they are all about. Thanks I marvel sometimes at what you manage to find out.

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    • Thanks Hallysann – that’s really kind! I love the ‘arty’ side of photography – trying to capture the beauty in things – but I’m also a bit of an information addict. Ooh, I could bore you for hours 😉

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    • Thank you Nigel! Well, believe it or not, I use a Pentax compact camera, so no extra lenses or extenders. I have to get up close and personal with the creatures and zoom in. It’s good doing it that way because when you’re up close with nature you can learn such a lot just by watching. A lot of patience is needed though – you have to tread carefully and gain their confidence as it were. A lot of shots don’t come out that well, but occasionally I get lucky!

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    • Thank you Sandy! Yes – I’ve been out for a longish walk today and saw them around wild flowers on crop field margins. There does seem to be more this year – which is great!

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  3. i know it’s hard to capture flying insects over flowers…so i must congratulate you on this one…very nice shot…i’m also glad you provide a scientific name for it.

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    • Thanks very much! You’re right, it’s not easy to capture flying insects over flowers – bees are especially fast! Sometimes one gets lucky though. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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