Sunday, 18 March 2012

A sunny day

Yesterday (Saturday) was bright and sunny, bringing out many hoverflies and bumblebees from hibernation.

The first hoverfly to pose for me in 2012 was this female Eristalis tenax:

Female Eristalis tenax
There are a couple of interesting points about that shot:

  • Notice the very dark abdomen, virtually all black. The orange stripes are virtually invisible, which is due to the colder temperature during winter. These females overwinter as adults, and their offspring will have the benefit of warmer summer temperatures and will mostly have the 'normal' orange stripes.
  • I noticed that the 'Eristalis bulge' in the wing vein (arrowed) showed up well in the photograph. This is a very useful feature to learn when identifying hoverflies.

This shot of the face shows the wide vertical black stripe between the eyes, which is a strong indicator for E. tenax (other species of Eristalis have narrower stripes or no stripe):

Female Eristalis tenax - front view

Now that the Willow has catkins, the early moths are taking advantage of this vital food source. This is the (male) Early Thorn moth:

Male Early Thorn moth
This is one of the few moths that hold their wings vertically, rather like many butterflies do. (The heavily feathered antennae are the clue that it's a male).


Toffeeapple said...

Isn't it good to see the insects about again?

Stuart said...

Toffee: yes, it's wonderful how they just appear when conditions are right. When we walk along the empty country lanes in winter, many insects are just hiding and waiting for the right weather and temperature to arrive.

I have an area where I rot down the manure from my chicken coop and yesterday it was occupied by hundreds of Scathophaga dung flies.