The Pellucid hoverfly
Here’s a photo of one of our largest flies, the Pellucid or Large Pied-hoverfly Volucella pellucens that I took back on the 8 July 2012 in Marlborough while I was in the middle of a RiverFly survey on the River Og. Pellucid means transparent or translucent and in this instance refers to the ivory-white band across the abdomen, which if caught in the right light enables you to see through its middle. This and the dark spot on each wing makes this species quite easy to identify in the field.
This is a female as it has a small gap between the eyes. If there was no gap and the eyes were touching it would indicate a male.
Hoverflies belong to the family Syrphidae which is part of the order Diptera (true flies) from the Greek di = two, and ptera = wings. This fairly common species is a predator of social wasps and bumblebees. The female lays her eggs in the underground nests of her hosts. After hatching her larvae will initially feed on the host’s young before dropping to the bottom of the nest chamber where they will scavenge a living by eating the remains of food brought in by the bees or wasps, waste products and even dead adults. The fully grown larvae will leave the nest and pupate in the soil.
Over 270 species of hoverfly have been recorded in the UK and this is increasing by approximately one species per year.
More info about recording UK hover flies can be found here.