I wasn't expecting to become the subject of a fierce dispute when I sat down to read on a rug in the wild garden this afternoon, but that's what promptly happened. Perhaps it was my animal magnetism, or maybe they just couldn't resist the Avon (Special Forces approved) insect repelling body spray with which I'd liberally doused myself to discourage other, more toothy flies from taking chunks out of me... but either way, I had two male Helophilus pendulus bouncing off each other for the next half hour in their determination to claim me.
I've kept back the shot in which one of them showed off his genitalia - I don't think any of us need to see that - but aside from that slightly distasteful moment, I confess to having found all the attention quite amusing. It certainly provided me with a good photo opportunity: whenever I got a little too close to him with the end of the lens hood he would take off, but he always came back down within a few seconds, to make sure he held on to his territory.
What the neighbours must have thought about me sitting there photographing my own feet, I can only imagine - but I suspect they think I'm odd anyway, so this was probably just confirmation. Back in the day, having a little flying familiar like this might have got me into quite a lot of trouble, but these days you can be an old crone with crazy hair who talks to insects with no worse consequences than people giving you a wide berth - and to be honest, in these trying times, that suits me absolutely fine.