Each autumn, we seem to have a mini explosion of flying things coming into our house.
Most of the time we try to catch the insects* and put them outside. Sometimes that is quite difficult and the little creatures evade capture for days, and when this happens, they often end up dead, poor things, like this little guy.
No, he’s not a bee, he’s a hoverfly – Myothropa Florea.Â You can tell the difference in several ways, if you care to get close enough; for instance, the abdomens of hoverflies tend to be very flat compared to bees or wasps, and they only have one pair of wings instead of two.Â They also fly differently, and most of them are silent, whereas bees and wasps buzz or drone.Â Hoverflies do mimic bees and wasps because it’s a very useful trick, in terms of survival, to look like something which will hurt you if you try to eat it.
This one evaded capture simply because I hadn’t seen him until he ended up dead on the windowsill, and then I found him (or her – I’m not that good at identification!)Â rather intriguing, because while I was pretty sure he wasn’t a bee, I didn’t know which hoverfly he was.Â Well, today I tracked him down, using my photos and an online key with some great pictures.Â It’s always worth checking across several reference sources, but so far I haven’t seen anything to suggest he’s anything but Myothropa Florea … unless you know different?
Soon afterwards, we had another visitor.Â We were sitting in the lounge watching television one evening when we became aware of something rather large fluttering about.Â We paused the TV to catch it, but this proved impossible.Â No sooner did I get up than it flew into the kitchen and disappeared.Â I looked everwhere, walking back through the hall and the dining room, but no luck.Â I sat down again, and the insect reappeared, flitting back and forth across the TV screen.Â I got up again.Â It disappeared again.Â In the end I gave up because I couldn’t find it, but the next day, there it was, sitting on a wall in the lounge.Â Creeping up to it vewy, vewy, qwietly, with a tumbler in one hand and my trusty postcard in the other, I finally managed to trap it and take it outside.
And there he was in all his spendour: a magnificent Peacock butterfly.
The reason he was able to disappear so effectively in the semi-dark is that the underside of those glorious wings is such a dark brown as to be almost black.Â All he had to do was alight in some corner and fold his wings.
Lastly, let me show you my most exciting visitor.
This is one of the hawk moths – a Poplar Hawk Moth to be precise.Â He’s a big, handsome fellow, isn’t he?Â Sadly, by the time I caught him, he’d beaten himself up a tad and was missing a few scales, but though reluctant to leave, he did fly safely away in the end.
I love those big moths, and always try to get a picture.Â Often it’s impossible, because we like to sit with the conservatory door open in the evenings, and while they do come in quite frequently, they usually fly out again without any help.
Some of the notable examples we’ve recently had are a Yellow Underwing, a Pale-Shouldered Brocade, a Swallow-Tailed Moth, and a Lime Hawk Moth.Â That’s two hawk moths within a couple of weeks!Â The hawk moths are relatively rare and I’m always excited to see them.
* Yes, it’s usually insects – birds tend to fly into houses in the spring!