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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

02 November, 2015

Hoverfly: Volucella zonaria

This hoverfly, Volucella zonaria, is yet another that mimics other, more fearsome, insects; in this case the hornet. Hornets are renowned for having a very painful sting and some people are terrified of them although the number of cases of hornet stings I believe is very low as there are few hornets these days and, in any event, they do not sting unless under threat. Sadly, this lovely, harmless hoverfly can strike panic in to people when it turns up in their gardens looking for nectar supplies.
Volucella zonaria is the largest species of hoverfly found in Britain and its appearance as a hornet mimic has a purpose, they lay their eggs in hornets nests but, more often, also in wasps nests where the larvae feed on debris in the bottom of the nest. That disguise certainly helps them avoid attack!
This is a fairly recent coloniser of southern Britain being first recorded in the 1930's. After establishing itself in the London area it has now spread west and north and can be found in Dorset quite frequently, especially around Bournemouth and Poole. It is very fond of buddleja and other such shrubs often found in gardens where it is most often seen. I suppose 

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