Saturday, 11 May 2013

Early May 2013

The warmer weather has brought out more blossom and the hoverflies are coming out with them. Around the blackthorn flowers, male Eristalis pertinax are holding territories. There are also many Eristalis intricaria about, more than I have noted in previous years at this time of the season. This is a dark bumblebee mimic.

Last Saturday I noted the first Epistrophe eligans of the year in Old Sulehay forest. This species is one of the iconic Spring hoverflies. Nationally, its appearance has been getting earlier in the year, presumably because of climatic warming, so I wondered if the long cold Winter had delayed its appearance this year. Looking back over the past 10 years of my observations, the first dates for me in Northants were:
2003 11th May
2004 no record
2005 17th May
2006 no record
2007 22nd April
2008 26th April
2009 26th April
2010 27th April
2011 07th April
2012 10th May
2013 04th May.
So it was slightly late but by no means the latest I have recorded it.

Epistrophe eligans, showing the broad yellow marks on the second abdominal segment, narrower ones on the third and no yellow on the fourth.

Another typical Spring species is Leucozona lucorum. I saw my first for the year on 4th May near Yardley Hastings.
Leucozona lucorum, showing the bright white marks on the base of the abdomen contrasting with the black apex. L. lucorum has a yellow scutellum, whereas the similarly coloured Volucella pellucens has a black scutellum.

In the local woods and even in my garden the "Heineken Hoverfly" Rhingia campestris is also on the wing.

We are now seeing the first of the Spring craneflies emerging, with the large long-palped cranefly Tipula oleracea being taken at the Pitsford Reserve's moth traps.

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