Tuesday 26 April 2011: Furry bee mimic
The weather's turned cold and grey, and I've felt tired and uninspired. Fortunately I was able to photograph this rather splendid furry bee mimic, which is actually a hoverfly, Criorhina ranunculi.
All Criorhinas are uncommon and all are associated with old trees, usually in old woodlands. Criorhina ranunculi is one of the earliest hoverflies to emerge in spring. It can be found about woodland edges at sallow catkins, blackthorn, cherry and other blossom. The males fly about trees, "headbutting" other flies and bees - very distinctive behaviour. I particularly like the golden fur on the front of its face (the frons). The fine dust in its fur is probably pollen.
You can tell that it's a harmless fly because it only has a single pair of wings (bees and wasps have two) and it has sponge-like mouthparts, visible under the head, which are very different from bees and wasps jaws.