Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A Flurry of Flower Flies...

Flower flies or syrphids (or sometimes hoverflies) from the family Syrphidae have quite a hold on me. There are more than 525 species known from the Maritime provinces so there's a lot there to grab hold of (!) and, since they're largely unknown to me—while I know the relatively few species of butterflies well—there's a certain excitement in finding and identifying them. This one, photographed June 12, 2015, south of Dollar Lake, NS, while nectaring at bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) flowers, is Blera confusa. Presumably the specific epithet is because they're often confused for drone flies, Eristalis arbustorum.

These two female flower flies are Cheilosia bardus (formerly C. albitarsus). I doubt that two males would peacefully coexist on the same flower! They're most commonly found, as photographed here on June 11, 2015 at Roaches Pond in Spryfield, NS, on flowers of buttercups, Ranunculus sp., and the association is so strong that a sister species is actually called C. ranunculi.

I was quite excited to find and photograph this unusual and uncommon wasp-mimic flower fly, Doros aequalis, on June 18, 2015, at Roaches Pond in Spryfield, NS. At first I thought it was the common—although it flies much later in the summer—Spilomyia sayi, but it lacked the patterned eyes of that species and had subtly different body markings.

This flower fly, Meligramma trianguliferum (note the triangular-shaped abdominal markings), is circumpolar so can be found in many places in the Northern hemisphere. Photographed in the Pockwock watershed on June 15, 2015. It's quite a bit smaller than the above three species but not quite as tiny as the next one...

Finally, this is the diminutive female Toxomerus marginatus. Less than 5 mm (about 3/16") long, these tiny flower flies are true hover flies capable of seemingly hovering in place forever. But everything has to rest sometime and this one is taking its ease on a slender blade of grass along the MacIntosh Run in Spryfield, NS, on June 18, 2015.

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