Hoverfly puparia

by Richard Jones

The snow has gone completely now, and I take these latent packages as a good sign that spring is coming.

Syrphid pupariumWe've had to cut down most of the Clematis montana. It had already done some damage to the featheredge and was threatening to bring down the entire fence. Oh well. It was a fast grower when we first planted it and has provided us with a huge drift of pale, blousy flowers for the last 10 years.

The rest of the garden has matured a bit since then, so we can afford a bit of bare wood before we decide what to do next. And, in removing the tangled stems, we uncovered a series of pale opalescent pearls nestling in the overlapping planks.

These are the puparia of hoverflies, probably Epistrophe elegans, a distinctive little pale orange and brown wasp mimic, often the first species to appear on the wing in March and April. Resembling smooth translucent teardrops, the true chrysalis (the pupa) is hidden inside the inflated skin of the larva, called a puparium. At the narrow end of the teardrop are the remains of the larval breathing tube, the siphon, which gives hoverfly larvae their distinctive 'tailed' appearance in life.

The snow has gone completely now, and I take these latent packages as a good sign that spring is coming. Most hoverflies overwinter as larvae, only pupating in spring when they arouse from hibernation torper. I'll let you know when I see the first one on the wing. But feel free to let me know that you've seen one first.

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Gardeners' World Web User 08/02/2010 at 13:50

Reply to Heavy Horse Thank you for your support. That fiver will be in the post as promised.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/02/2010 at 14:34

Well I really enjoyed this post. Hoverflies are fascinating little critters and come in so many shapes and sizes. There are some amazing bumble bee mimics. Plus the larva eat aphids so they are welcome in my garden any day. :)

Gardeners' World Web User 22/02/2010 at 15:07

I quite agree with Honesty the more hoverflies the less greenfly.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:40

I find it unbelievable, that a post on birds in the garden will attract a deluge of comments, but one such as yours, on the other beings that use such a habitat, seem not to arouse as much interest. Do not despair Richard, your writings have inspired me to purchase a book on British insects, and as soon as the weather improves, I shall start turning over stones and leaves to see what there is in my garden. Keep up the good work