Country corner

Country corner - September 1'Hoverflies
Country corner - September 1'Hoverflies

It will hardly surprise you to hear I have had two mails on the subject of hoverflies.

Both Mary Wallace and Callum Herd have sent me pictures of the insects crowded onto flower heads.

These yellow and black striped flies are everywhere at present.

It seems everyone is talking about them, some more accurately than others !

It’s amazing how many calls to “wasp nests” have turned out to be nothing more than harmless hoverflies gathered around a favourite shrub.

For some reason, many local folk refer to hoverflies as “hornets”.

Hornets are in fact very large wasps, which only recently reached England from the Continent and have yet to spread to Scotland.

I have also heard hoverflies called “young wasps”.

Wasps are fully grown as they emerge from their pupal cells within the nest.

Therefore, all wasps in a colony – young and old – are the same size.

No, all those striped flies hovering around in great abundance at present, are hoverflies.

They are totally harmless, indeed very beneficial, as their larvae are ravenous devourers of greenfly, blackfly and other aphids.

As for why there are so many this summer, my guess is simply a combination of optimal conditions over a prolonged period.

Perhaps more of their eggs or pupae survived the winter.

Perhaps spring and early summer weather patterns suited the production of many more aphids, or perhaps they just like rain!

More likely it is a combination of all these factors and a few more which has got everyone talking about hoverflies. Many thanks to both Callum and Mary for this week’s subject.