Striped Intruder

Hoverfly on Fennel flowers

This must be the year of the hoverfly, with the garden alive with them every hour of daylight every day, their intensity increasing as the sun comes out. They seem particularly attracted to fennel, echinops and alliums.

There are so many different hoverflies around us, with Britain alone host to 276 species, and many so cleverly copying other insects that we are not aware that we are looking at hoverflies at all. The most obvious one is the yellow striped one, the Marmalade Hoverfly, seen in the photo which mimics a wasp. This is a clever move as wasps are rarely preyed upon by larger creatures, their yellow and black striped colour scheme acting as a warning.

The hoverfly sadly however did not reckon on human beings who kill them falling for their deceit and believing them to be wasps. They do however possess and deploy a “pretend” sting which gives a slight prick but no chemical to sting us.
The hoverflies we see most of in our gardens, the Marmalade Hoverfly, are attracted to plants that can give them both pollen and nectar as they are one of the few insects that are equipped to digest pollen. Apart from copying wasps some take the form of look-a-like bees, flies and some tiny ones have developed to look like gnats.

The Real Thing - the Common Wasp

For organic gardeners hoverflies are true friends as their larvae eat aphids with as much relish as the larvae of Ladybirds, so we should be planting for them and providing shelter for them. On our lottie we plant Phaecelia and Sedums specially for them. We never see aphids on our plot. and similarly at home we select plants for insects in general but keep hoverflies, ladybirds and bees especially in mind.
Two contributions that hovers gift to the garden that are rarely attributed to them are that of champion pollinator and a brilliant indicator of biodiversity. Their presence is a sign of a garden with biodiversity in a healthy state. We should be pleased to have them in so many ways.

About greenbenchramblings

A retired primary school head teacher, I now spend much of my time gardening in our quarter acre plot in rural Shropshire south of Shrewsbury. I share my garden with Jude my wife a newly retired teacher , eight assorted chickens and a plethora of wildlife. Jude does all the heavy work as I have a damaged spine and right leg. We also garden on an allotment nearby. We are interested in all things related to gardens, green issues and wildlife.
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