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Posts Tagged ‘hoverfly’

When I first saw some tiny little flies buzzing around in the garden of my neighbor and photography mentor Cindy Dyer, I knew that they were not bees. I could tell that they were hover flies, because of the way they acted, or perhaps you know them as flower flies, because of where they can be found most often.

As I observed the flies, I was attracted to the beautiful, elaborate patterns on their bodies and realized that this was a different species of hover fly than I was used to seeing. Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, there are over six thousand hover fly species worldwide. How could I possibly identify this species?

I was shocked, amazed, and delighted when a Facebook viewer informed me that this species is known as the Eastern Calligrapher Fly (Toxomerus geminatus). I love the thought of someone hand drawing the delicately etched pattern with pen and ink, creating a miniature work of art.

If you want to learn more fun facts about this cool little fly, check out an article from riveredgenaturecenter.org entitled “Bug o’the Week–Eastern Calligrapher Fly” by clicking on the name of the article.

Eastern Calligrapher Fly

Eastern Calligrapher Fly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Several years ago, when I first started getting serious about photography, I probably would have called the insect in the photo a bee. My choices back then were simple—a black and yellow insect was either a bee or a yellowjacket. Now that I know a whole lot more about insects, I can readily identify the insect as a hoverfly (also referred to as flower fly) from the Syrphidae family.

When I spotted the hoverfly yesterday, I was struck by the way that its colors matched almost perfect those of the black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) that were growing in abundance at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge.

hover fly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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While I was hunting for dragonflies the past Friday at Meadowood Recreation Area in Lorton, Virginia, I managed to get this shot of a hoverfly (family Syrphidae) on what I was told was blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium) by some folks conducting a wildlife survey.

I had no idea what blue-eyed grass was, so I turned to the internet when I got home. It turns out that blue-eyed grass is not actually a grass, but a perennial plant of the iris family, and sometimes it is not blue. According to Wikipedia, the genus of blue-eyed grasses includes up to 200 species that may have blue, white, yellow, or purple petals.

hoverfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As the days grow colder, I am trying to capture images of almost any insect that I can find.

I was particularly happy this weekend when I came across this little flower fly (also called a hoverfly or syrphid fly) on a beautiful reddish-purple leaf. The leaf made for a simple backdrop that lets you see some of the details of the fly’s body, including the incredible compound eyes and the antennae.

I was also pleased that the out-of-focus area behind the lead is a orange-red color that seems appropriate for this autumn season.

flower fly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I used to think that all black-and-yellow insects circling around flowers were bees, but quickly learned that many of them are flower flies (also known as hoverflies). There are a lot of different varieties of flower flies, but I think that they all belong to the Syrphidae family.

Yesterday when I was visiting Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland, I managed to capture this image of a flower fly just as it had inserted its head into a small purple flower. It’s a pretty simple composition, but I really like the way that it turned out, with a good amount of detail on the fly’s body.

hover fly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Hoverflies normally are as busy as bees, in constant motion as they move from flower to flower. From time to time, though, I guess that they need to rest. Earlier this week, I captured this image of  a hoverfly relaxing on the dried out leaf of a cattail at my local marshland park.

hoverflyA_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Last weekend was warm and sunny and the bees were very active again after a period of cold weather and little activity. In a short period of time I was able to see (and photograph) several different varieties of bees. In addition to the familiar honeybees and bumblebees, I encountered what I thought was a new kind of bee.

Well, actually, it looked more like a hover fly (or flower fly), but the coloration was different. (Check out one of my earlier postings to see a photo of a hover fly.)  The unknown insect, featured in the third photograph below, acted a lot like a bee, buzzing from flower to flower feeding on nectar or pollen. I am still not completely certain about its identification, but it looks like it might be a Yellowjacket Hover Fly (Milesia virginiensis), a mimic for the Southern Yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa), according to information at Bugguide.

The weather has turned cold again and I may not see these insects again until spring, but it was nice to have an encore performance before the show is closed for the season.

Honeybee in November

Bumblebee in November

Yellowjacket Hover Fly in November

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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