Whitecross Green Wood, Oxfordshire
(De Geer, 1776)
Episyrphus balteatus, sometimes called the marmalade hoverfly, is a relatively small hoverfly (9–12 mm) of the Syrphidae family, widespread throughout the Palaearctic region, which covers Europe, North Asia and North Africa. Like most other hoverflies, it mimics a much more dangerous insect, the solitary wasp, though it is a quite harmless species. The upper side of the abdomen is patterned with orange and black bands. Two further identification characters are the presence of secondary black bands on the third and fourth dorsal plates and faint greyish longitudinal stripes on the thorax.
E. balteatus can be found throughout the year in various habitats, including urban gardens, visiting flowers for pollen and nectar. They often form dense migratory swarms, which may cause panic among people for their resemblance to wasps. It is among the very few species of flies capable of crushing pollen grains and feeding on them. The larva is terrestrial and feeds on aphids.
Male marmalade fly, with holoptic eyes
Female marmalade fly feeding on a Hebe speciosa flower
close-up of the head sitting on a flower of a Grey-haired Rockrose (Cistus incanus). The fly head has a diameter of 0.1 inch (2.5 mm).
- "Marmalade hoverfly - Episyrphus balteatus". Natural England. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
- Ball, S.G.; Morris, R.K.A. (2000). Provisional atlas of British hoverflies (Diptera, Syrphidae). Monks Wood, UK: Biological Record Centre. pp. 167 pages. ISBN 1-870393-54-6.
- Morris, Roger, K. A. (1999). Hoverflies of Surrey. Surrey Wildlife Trust. p. 244. ISBN 0-9526065-3-4.
- Stubbs, Alan E. and Falk, Steven J. (1983). British Hoverflies: An Illustrated Identification Guide. British Entomological & Natural History Society. p. 253, xvpp.
- Van Veen, M.P. (2004). Hoverflies of Northwest Europe, Identification Keys to the Syrphidae (Hardback). Utrecht: KNNV Publishing. p. 254. ISBN 90-5011-199-8.
- Verrall, G.H. (1901). British flies, vol. 8: Platypezidae, Pipunculidae and Syrphidae of Great Britain, reprint, 1969, E. W. Classey, Hampton.
- Chiney, Michael (2007), Insects of Britain and Western Europe. Domino Guides, A&C Black, London
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