Hoverflies and similar things
Walking by the umbellifer plants along the tracks on the marsh, I noticed a number of common hoverflies. The species are a very attractive family of true flies that harmlessly feed on flowers or around trees, and possess a myriad of colours and patterns. Importantly, they are non-biters. Some species are long-distance migrants and move through the UK in late summer and over 280 species have been recorded.
Of the bright and relatively easy ones to identify, I managed to photograph four species.
Syrphus ribesii (female) – one of the yellow banded hoverflies and not easy to tell apart. The female shows hind tibia that are all yellow, so I thought S.ribesii. They are a common resident plus a migrant.
Helophilus pendulus – known by the common names of the ‘Sun-fly’ or ‘Footballer’, the last mentioned due to the orange and black stripes on the thorax. Very common even in gardens.
Distantly related to the hoverflies are the Conopid Flies, the ‘Thick-headed Flies’. These are brightly coloured but very shy and difficult to approach unless feeding. The adult female waits on a leaf for a bee or wasp to fly past and darts out and lays an egg between the segments on its abdomen. The larvae hatch and drink blood before consuming the gut and intestines. The host insect dies and the Conopid over-winters in its body, emerging as an adult the following year. Didn’t Ridley Scott make a film about them?
Thick-headed Fly – Sicus ferrugineus (images 5 & 6).
Written and images by Tony Broome