While photographing bees last week I encountered a smartly marked hoverfly. I was particularly impressed by its striped head. I have to admit that until I looked into it, I has assumed that there were maybe half a dozen different species in the UK. I’ve never really examined them closely until this one flew into my lens range.
How wrong I was. Fortunately by googling ‘hoverfly ID’ my first hit was a wonderful site about the natural history of Rutland and Leicestershire called NATURESPOT. The link will take you to their hoverfly page, from which you will learn that “There are over 280 species of hoverflies in Britain and around 140 of these have been recorded in Leicestershire and Rutland”.
Additional useful information includes this lightly edited précis:
- Many have black and yellow markings and are often confused with bees and wasps
- Hoverflies are totally harmless and are definitely a gardener’s friend
- The larvae of several common species have a voracious appetite for aphids
- Very few hoverflies have common names
- Those that exist (e.g. “The Footballer”) are not always widely known or agreed
- However the Latin names of all the species are accepted
I had to scroll quite far down the hoverfly page to reach the striped-headed ones. Here’s a clip of the part that I used for a clear ID as Helophilus trivittatus. I highly recommend Naturespot not just for hoverflies, but for many different species. It may be local to a specific area, but it is a mine of information for the UK generally, and very well organised.
Hoverfly weblink: http://www.naturespot.org.uk/taxonomy/term/19415