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Unexpected Visitor – Volucella Zonaria?

25th June 2020 @ 6:06am – by TWiG
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Seen in a Garden near you!
This rare, large insect was photographed on a maple leaf (to give you an idea of it's size) in a garden in the village last week. Its rarity has exercised the members of the Tattenhall Wildlife Group (TWiG) who believe it is a " Volucella Zonaria" (or a Hornet Hoverfly in English). If you think it's something else, please let us know.

The Hornet hoverfly (Volucella zonaria), at up to 25mm long, is one of the largest and most impressive flies in Britain. The hoverfly looks like a dangerous, stinging hornet but is actually harmless. This mimicry helps keep predators, such as birds away. This hoverfly can be seen from May to October so keep your eyes peeled.

The larva of the Hornet hoverfly can live happily in the nests of social wasps without getting stung! The hoverfly larva eats the debris and rubbish in the wasp nest and in return the wasps have a free cleaner. This type of relationship where one species benefits and the other is unaffected is called commensalism or symbiosis.

This spectacular hoverfly first colonised Britain in the early 1940s, and was once regarded as rare. Since then it has become well established in London, the South and South East of England. As the climate warms the fly is heading north and has been recorded in Cheshire (and now Tattenhall?)

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