This is our largest Hover-fly Volucella zonaria and quite a whopper it is too at about 2cm in length. It’s a mimic of the hornet Vespa crabro. The female uses this disguise in order to lay eggs in the hornet’s nest, the parasitic offspring then feed on the victim’s larvae. They’re not exactly common but easy enough to identify by their large size. As you can see it has a mainly orangey-yellow abdomen with dark bands, a yellow bottom and an almost varnished mahogany look to the thorax. And just look at those huge brown eyes and that big pointed yellow face. Once you’ve seen one they’re pretty unmistakeable. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Flies’
Whilst out looking for bumblebees I occasionally come across something more unusual like this little chap. It’s one of the Bee-flies, the more common of which is the Large Bee-fly Bombylius major which sometimes visits gardens. This is the much scarcer Dotted Bee-Fly Bombylius discolor. It’s almost mouse-like with its furry coat and fairy dotted wings but look at that vicious-looking spike coming out of its mouth. What’s that all about? Don’t worry it’s not something to sting you with. It’s just its proboscis which it uses to suck nectar. It’s not exactly harmless though as it’s parasitoid larvae attack the grubs of solitary bees and wasps in their underground nests. It’s thought to prey primarily on the larvae of the Grey or Ash Mining Bee Andrena cineraria. Cute though isn’t it?