'Dangling swamp-lover'

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 18 October 2010 08:26

This is Helophilus pendulus (which roughly translates as dangling swamp-lover - it's not an official name, don't know if it has one and I don't know if it is particularly relevant), and is one of the commonest hoverflies in the UK.  As far as I know there are four species in the genus. They are all black and yellow, medium sized hovers with vertical stripes on the thorax. One is restricted to Scotland (groenlandicus) and is very dark in appearance so we can eliminate that one. Of the remaining two, one has an all yellow face trivittatus, you can see from the above photo that this specimen has a black line down the centre of the face. That leaves two species, pendulus and the more local hybridus. The hind tibia (middle section of the leg) of hybridus has only about one third yellow while in pendulus at least half is yellow (in this case nearly least two thirds are yellow). Therefore this is Helophilus pendulus. See British Hoverflies by Alan Stubbs and Steven Falk for more details.

I have been lecturing for Birkbeck all weekend, hence the blog has been quiet. It's been a really exhausting weekend as it always is with all the travelling but this was exacerbated by being stuck in three huge traffic jams and having by far the largest class of students. That meant I had no time to do any natural history what-so-ever except to photo this hoverfly and spot another Brambling. Seems like this year is going to be a good Brambling year having recorded four so far this end of the year.

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