Hoverflies – Natural Pest Control

2012_08_14 CUL - Sun Fly (Heliophilus pendulas) 03
Sun Fly (Heliophilus pendulas) on a Thistle flower

Back again in Spain after a month in a somewhat wet and rainy Ireland, I have the task of going through all my photos now. And updating my blog of course after the past weeks of neglect. So let’s start with some of the first photos I took at home in my wifes homestead.

They have a patch of land next to the house that was a vegetable garden last year but this year it’s been left alone and is full of wildflowers which attract an abundance of insectivorous life. What I initially thought were a sort of bee turn out to be what are known as Hoverflies. Although they look like bees or wasps by their various forms and colourations, closer inspection will show that unlike what they try to imitate, they have only one set of functional wings, the hindsight reduced to helping with balance only. The imitation of bees and wasps is to deter predators.

2012_08_14 CUL - Sun Fly (Heliophilus pendulus) 02
Sun Fly (Heliophilus pendulas) on a Thistle flower

The two photos above are of the Sun Fly species, its latin name meaning “dangling sun-lover”. And sure enough it was one of the few really warm and sunny days when I saw these gathering nectar from thistle flowers.

2012_08_14 CUL - Bog Hoverfly (Sericomyia silentis) 01
Bog Hoverfly (Sericomyia silentis) on a Thistle flower

Seeing as how I was in Mayo, which has a long tradition of turf-cutting, there are bogs everywhere and one not far away from my mother-in-law’s house. Having said that though, most of Ireland was like a bog after the rainy summer they had. But I digress. All that really needs to be said is that the Bog Hoverfly is normally found in bogs.

2012_08_14 CUL - Hoverfly (Rhingia campestris) 02
Hoverfly (Rhingia campestris) on Hedge Woundwort

And finally there is this Hoverfly which doesn’t have a common name and its larvae are associated with cow dung, of which there is plenty in that area due to cattle in the surrounding fields.

The hoverflies are sometimes called Flower Flies or Syrphid Flies. They aren’t called hoverflies or flower flies for nothing either as they often hover over or feed on the nectar and pollen of flowers. The larvae of some species eat decaying organic matter but others are insectivores and are an important agent for the biological control of crop damaging aphids and other disease spreading insects. Also of use to us is the fact that some of the adult species are important pollinators. In these ways hoverflies help farmers and gardeners alike, who may plant certain certain companion plants to attract them. So the next time you see one, don’t swat it or kill it, they’re not harmful but actually the opposite. (Source: Wikipedia)

Join us for our guided birding, wildlife and butterfly tours in La Mancha, Spain with Oretani Wildlife.

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