Monday 27 October 2014

The Ivy

.. is the name of a famous London eatery. It's also a vital resource for insects - and therefore insect-eating birds - as the year comes to a close. Friday was sunny much of the time, and the ivy plants on the bridge over the bief were swarming with insects.

What I know about insects could be written on a very small postage stamp, but Tim helped me with the identification, as far as the family level anyway. One critter defeated us both completely, my thanks to Susan for identifying it. There were some very striking animals among the ones we saw and I can understand the fascination that insects have for so many people.. Here are a few.

1. Ivy bee - Colletes hederae
Colletes hederae is a  recent addition to the list of European bees, being described as new to science in 1993. It was first recorded in Britain in 2001. Appropriately, it is collecting ivy pollen.

2, Colletes hederae

3. Colletes hederae

4. Tapered Drone Fly eristalis pertinax, male
5. Tachinid - Ectophasia crassipennis (male)

6. Ectophasia crassipennis

7. Ectophasia crassipennis

8. Ectophasia crassipennis

9. Left -  Ectophasia crassipennis   Right - drone fly eristalis sp

10. As above, lightened

11. Episyrphus balteatus - the marmalade hoverfly

12. Milesia crabroniformis

13. Milesia crabroniformis

14. Drone fly eristalis spp (centre) with another small fly, probably Amphidae

15. Drone fly eristalis sp
16. The German wasp or European Wasp,  vespula germanica, la guêpe germanique, and a friend


Susan said...

Photo#4= Tapered Drone Fly Eristalis pertinax, male.

Photo#9+10= Ectophasia crassipennis on the left. How can you tell the one on the right is Eristalis interruptus? Could be tenax, maybe even arbustorum. Eristalis sp is the best I can do.

Photo#14+15=Eristalis sp, probably tenax. His small friend is probably an Anthomyidae.

To tell the Eristalis spp apart you need to see their legs.

Nice sighting of the Ivy Bee. I haven't seen it yet, so jealous.

Afrenchgarden said...

It is sad to see the Ivy with all its activity passing but at least the summer weather continues. I have noted a large number of bumble bee mimics this year. From a distance the only way I can tell they are not bees is that they lack the long antennae and have only those stubby ones that flies have. Great photographs. Amelia

Pollygarter said...

Thanks for the IDs Susan, I've updated the captions. The closer I look at the pictures the more creatures I see. It's fascinating. I could have gone on photographing all day and still not picked up all the species using the ivy. I daren't mention the spiders in there too. Colletes hederae was present in numbers and there's a big study going on in UK.

Pollygarter said...

The Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Society has a factsheet about colletes hederae at

Anonymous said...

I have seen quite a few ivy bees here in South Devon recently; even today I saw one or two on the coast near Torquay and we are nearly November.