Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Insect of the week #1 Eristalis intricarius

Flowering Buddleias, or butterfly bushes, are everywhere at the moment and Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies are taking full advantage.

Red Admiral

In another year, they'd be joined by Painted Ladies, but they seem thin on the ground, especially compared to the record breaking summer of 2010, when millions descended on the UK.

Painted Lady

Compared to these gaudiest of insects, the bees and hoverflies which come to share the buddleia bounty would be easy to ignore, but many are worth a closer look.

Take for example the hoverfly Eristalis intricarius. Like so many British insects it lacks a common name, suggestions welcome! All the other Eristalis species are mimics of honeybees, indeed a quick look at a buddleia will almost certainly reveal at least one of them. Intricarius goes for mimickry on a grander scale, sporting the furry coat and colouration of a bumblebee.

Eristalis intricarius

Females are decked out with the furry body and white tail of a classic bumblebee, whilst males go for a natty ginger tail.

Eristalis intricarius

Intricarius is a widespread hoverfly, turning up in a variety of habitats, on a range of flowers, including the ubiquitous garden buddleia. So next time you're passing a butterfly bush, try looking past the gaudy show-offs and see if you can spot a hoverfly in a furry coat!

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