Monday, 20 June 2016

Post 423 - Now its wonderful National Insect Week

Hoverfly (Sericomyia silentis) feeding
Hey everyone, it's Post 423 and today 30 Days Wild meets National Insect week. I've been busy out insect hunting and have a few nice ones to tell you about. I thought I'd start today with some lovely insects I see a lot of. They're quite tricky sometimes to get a good look at but if you find them feeding on some handy wild flowers that are at your head height you can get a really good look at them.

Most of these insects are brightly coloured, some are furry and they are like this for a reason. They are trying to look like something else. I'm talking about Hoverflies. That's quite lucky as I saw this earlier.

Cheilosia illustrata

Sericomyia lappona
So at Silton Forest, my local patch, I've seen lots of Hoverflies in the past but I saw a load at the weekend. Esme, my Jack Russel, has had a little operation today so as we're looking after her and not going for a walk tonight I thought I'd learn a bit more about these great mini-beasts.

I saw a dronefly quite similar to the one in the tweet which I think might be a Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax) which I found in the forest last year (click to see my post about that).
Sericomyia silentis

  • They are true flies (Diptera) and only have one pair of wings, I'm pretty sure that most species of bees and wasps are not true flies and sport 2 pairs of wings.
  • They are a pretty varied species - there are 6000 species in the world and about 270 in the UK. 
  • Most of them are striped like wasps or bees. This is deliberate mimicry! They try to look like another species so that predators will avoid them.
    Eristalis pertina
  • Apparently if you catch and hold some hoverflies they will also pretend to sting you, pushing the tip of their abdomen into your finger. They have no sting!
  • They can be very varied in size, shape and hairiness as you can see in my photos!
  • Some species e.g. some Dronflies larvae have long tails which they breath through - these are called rat tailed maggots.
  • As their name suggests one thing they do well is hover! If you watch them their heads remain absolutely still.
    Eupeodes sp - probably luniger or corollae
  • Adults eat nectar and they love wildflowers and are important pollinators of them.
  • Their life cycle goes from egg, to larvae, to pupa to adult.
  • Larvae eat a range of things but many will eat aphids. Some eat decaying plant or animal matter. 

Close up headshot
Hoverfly larvae
- a brave aphid is hitching a lift!
The Hoverfly larvae I found recently is doing nicely. It had a nice meal on the way home, I did have two but when I got home there was only one. Since then it has been in a jar eating aphids from bits of garden plants that we have put in the jar. Today I checked on it and it has started to pupate. Here's a few photos.

I'm looking forward to seeing it emerge, I just hope it decides to do that while I'm at home.

Starting to pupate.
Well, before the end of the post I'd like to thank National Insect Week and The Royal Entomological Society for all the support that they've given me. I've really enjoyed the recent bug hunts and learning about the species I've found. I'd be happy to help you back if I can whenever you'd like!

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. Yay for National Insect Week! I love the shots you got here and the information on the drone fly is really interesting. - Tasha