Hoverflies in the Orchard

Lovely sunny day so visited the Orchard this afternoon (23.04.2017) to enjoy the wildlife. So much buzzing about! I like the top path – the path is mown but the vegetation around is allowed to grow. Lots of interesting flies, bees and wasps make use of this. Lots of Speckled Wood butterflies and male Orange-tip Butterflies. Saw over a dozen of the latter but no females with their black tipped wings.

Spent some time watching which insects were visiting the apple blossom. Most numerous were the honey bees, these being followed by several species of hoverflies and other flies, with finally just a few solitary bees. There are many factors influencing numbers such as time of day, weather and, not least, the influence of the observer (me). Social and solitary bees are fairly tolerant of human proximity but flies are much more ready to fly or stay away at any sign of human movement.

Hoverflies are called the gardener’s friend because not only are they valuable pollinators but in their larval stage (the caterpillar stage) many are voracious aphid carnivores. I took a photo of two species of hoverfly on the apple blossom – a Syrphus (black and yellow wasp-mimic) and a Platycheirus albimanus. It is just possible to see that the Syrphus is a male (the eyes meet at the top of the head) and the P. albimanus is a female (the eyes are separated at the top of the head).

Two hoverflies

Two hoverflies

Fly of the Day – Platycheirus albimanus
A widespread and familiar hoverfly that likes woodland margins, hedgerows and gardens and that is especially conspicuous in May. The larval stages are predaceous on aphids on various plants and bushes including on apple trees so they, and other hoverfly larvae, will be important contributors to Orchard health.

Platycheirus albimanus

Platycheirus albimanus

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