On this page, Criorhina berberina - Volucella bombylans, Volucella pellucens, related pages
Above and below is Criorhina berberina, a hoverfly that is often mistaken for one of the ginger bumblebees such as Bombus pascuorum. However if you manage to get a look at its huge eyes and orange antennae there is no mistaking it.
Below is Syritta sp., a hover fly larva that is found in rotting debris, compost, farmyard manure and silage.
Above and below is Volucella bombylans, a bumblebee-mimicing hoverfly. There are different colourations of this fly to mimic the different bumblebees. The three main colour morphs imitate Bombus terrestris, B. lapidarius and B. pratorum. The different colours can interbreed. The larvae scavenge in the nest of bumblebees, or in the wasp, Vespula germanica's nest. They feed on dead workers and larvae, dropped food and other scavenging invertebrates. The adults are found in and around open woodlands from May to August feeding on thistles, scabious and brambles. Wing length is 8 - 14mm.
Volucella pellucens, above, is usually found in woodland, but will occasionally be found in gardens near woods. Males are usually the most easily spotted as they tend to hover at or a metre or two above head height, and can be highly territorial. They are fairly common throughout Europe and east right across the world as far as Japan. They are bumblebee mimics, and have the common name of Great pied hoverfly. The adult body length is 13 - 17mm, and wing length 10 -15mm.
Adults eat nectar and pollen, and are particularly fond of brambles. They fly from May to October. After mating the female enters the nest of Vespula vulgaris (the common wasp) or Vespula germanica (the german wasp). Wasps guard the nest entrance to protect the grubs and queen, but somehow, the guards do not stop the female. Once inside the female lays her eggs. On hatching the eggs drop the the base of the nest and eat whatever is there, debris, other insects and even dead wasps. They will climb up and feast on the wasp grubs if they cannot find enough to eat. Once they are fully grown the grubs make their way out of the wasp nest and drop to the ground to pupate in the soil and emerge as adults the following May or June. If the wasp nest is indoors the grubs will wander about to try to find a suitable place to pupate. Adults have a short life of just 2 - 5 weeks.