Hoverflies

Hoverfly

Insect

Although these brightly-coloured insects look like bees or wasps, they are in fact true flies and do not sting. Hoverflies are excellent examples of Batesian mimicry (named after H W Bates who first described it in 1862). They generally mimic bees and wasps – insects that sting and also taste unpleasant, so are avoided by predators. Drone-flies mimic honey bees, Volucella bombylans (pictured) has several different forms mimicking bumblebees, while others species are very convincing wasp mimics.

There are about 250 different hoverfly species in Britain. You can generally see plenty of adults on flowers throughout spring, summer and autumn. Hoverfly larvae are varied too – some even resemble small slugs. They all have different feeding habits. For example they may eat plants, feed on rotting wood and fungi, attack bulbs or parasitise other insects.

More well known and welcome in the garden are those that eat aphids and other pests eg Syrphus spp. Rat-tailed maggots, larvae of the dronefly Eristalis tenax, are found in polluted pools and extend their tail breathing tubes to the surface to breathe.

What does it eat?
Adults eat drink nectar and eat pollen and honeydew. Some species feed on dead insects. The larvae of different species eat different things. Some eat aphids.

When will I see it?
Between March and November, depending on the species.

Where will I see it?
Hovering near and resting on flowers. Many seem prone to entering conservatories and greenhouses.

Information from RSPB

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Pea Weevil (Sitona lineatus)

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This brown weevil has indistinct darker longitudinal stripes. Unlike many weevils, it has a very short, almost squared off rostrum or snout.

It does indeed feed on both peas and beans in gardens but only in a very minor way and causes very little damage to the crop. As an adult, this small creature feeds on the leaves of many leguminous species including Red and White Clover although for some reason it avoids Lupins. The larvae feed on the roots of the same species under the soil.

Information from Nature spot

Chrysotoxum verralli (type of hoverfly)

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This hoverfly is a wasp mimic, and very wasp-like in appearance. The genus is easy to recognise because it has long antennae that project forward.
Similar Species
There are several other similar Chrysotoxum species which require careful examination of the black bar patterns to separate.

Habitat
A grassland species often occurring near trees and on waste ground.
When to see it
June to October, peaking in July and early August
UK Status
Most records are from south-east England reaching as far as the Midlands. Often regarded as scarce except in a few parts of its range.

knotgrass Moth (Arconicta rumicis ) Caterpillar

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Wingspan 30-35 mm.

A variable species, some examples of which can resemble otherAcronicta species, but this moth usually shows a curved white mark near the rear edge of the forewing, even in melanic specimens.

It is widely distributed and quite common in most of Britain, except Scotland where it is less frequent.

On the wing in May to July, there is a second brood in southern England, appearing in August and September.

The larvae feed on a range of herbaceous plants.

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Photo of the moth and information from UK Moths 

I found the caterpillar feeding on my raspberry bush

Common Malachite Beetle (Malachius bipustulatus)

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The adult beetle is a predator and is found mainly on vegetation, where it hunts on flowers and amongst grasses. Later in its season, it is also found on trees where it lays its eggs in cracks in the bark. The larvae are predacious on smaller insects living under the loose bark of trees.

Information form Nature spot

The Vapourer moth (Orgyia antiqa) Caterpillar

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An unusual species in many ways, the males fly during the day.

The females are virtually wingless, an attribute normally associated with winter-emerging species, but the adults are out from July to September, sometimes October in the south.

The female lays her eggs on what remains of the pupal cocoon, which then over winter. When hatched, the very hairy caterpillars feed on a range of deciduous trees and shrubs.

The species is fairly common, especially in suburban habitats, over much of Britain, but more so in the south.

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Information and moth photo (as I’ve only photographed and seen the caterpillar) form UK Moths