Hoverfly: Syrphus species | Nature Notes from Dorset

As much as we like to put a name to species of wildlife we see sometimes you just have to accept that you cannot always do it! In some species the differences are so minute that you can only separate them by microscopic examination. To do that you need two things, a good microscope and a dead specimen.
For me nature is about enjoyment not science and I cannot bring myself to kill an animal purely to try and find out what species it is. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with people engaged in conservation and biological science doing this if it furthers our knowledge and understanding of how to conserve them. Insects have such a short life span that they would have died a few days, or even hours, later anyway.

So it is with these black and yellow wasp mimic hoverflies. Some have four black rings (or stripes depending on your point of view!) but the one in my photograph has five so this is either Syrphus ribesii, Syrphus vitripennis or Syrphus torvus. Which of the three? There is no way of knowing without looking at detail such as whether the eyes are hairy or bare and whether the hairs on the femur are purely yellow or have black hairs amongst them. So my record has to be listed purely as Syrphus species!

Read more: Hoverfly: Syrphus species | Nature Notes from Dorset

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