John O’Sullivan and I spent yesterday undertaking a hoverfly survey in the south of the County. We spent a few hours at Well Head, where the water gathers at the base of the Dunstable Downs. After lunch, we walked along a few footpaths on the chalk in the Totternhoe area.
There were hoverflies everywhere. As John put it, “For every bee there must be at least 100 hoverflies.” I think the number was probably much higher than that!
Not a good photo, but this was my favourite hoverfly of the day: the stunning Helophilus trivittatus, the biggest and brightest member of the Helophilus family. It’s only the second individual recorded in Bedfordshire so far this year.
I love the eye patterns on this species: Eristalinus sepulchralis, though you'll have to click on the photo to get a better idea of what I'm talking about.
The other hoverfly highlight was the presence of 4 male and 1 female Volucella inanis individuals on the same patch of bramble!
There were good numbers of butterflies around, too, including lots of Common Blues.
At Wellhead, we were surprised to come across this Chalkhill Blue.
Last year we had an invasion of these beautiful butterflies, originating in the Atlas Mountains of northern Africa: the Painted Lady. This year their numbers have been much fewer and far between!
Below are our butterfly and hoverfly lists for the trip: a great day out!
Large White; Small White; Green-veined White; Meadow Brown; Gatekeeper; Ringlet; Common Blue; Holly Blue; Chalkhill Blue; Small Copper; Large Skipper; Small Skipper; Red Admiral; Painted Lady; Comma.
Melanostoma scalare; Melanostoma mellinum; Platycheirus rosarum; Platycheirus peltatus; Platycheirus clypeatus; Platycheirus albimanus; Syrphus vitripennis; Syrphus ribesii; Melangyna comp/lab; Melangyna umbellatarum; Eupeodes corollae; Eupeodes luniger; Episyrphus balteatus; Dasysyrphus albostriatus; Scaeva pyrastri; Sphaerophoria scripta; Sphaerophoria taeniata; Cheilosia bergenstammi; Cheilosia pagana; Cheilosia impressa; Cheilosia proxima; Cheilosia soror; Melanogaster hirtella; Neoascia podagrica; Eumerus funeralis; Pipizella viduata; Volucella pellucens; Volucella inanis; Syritta pipiens; Eristalis tenax; Eristalis pertinax; Eristalis horticola; Eristalis intricaria; Eristalis arbustorum; Eristalis nemorum; Eristalinus sepulchralis; Myathropa florea; Helophilus pendulus; Helophilus trivittatus.
…a total of 39 species, which is a new record for me in terms of species seen in a day!