On the last day of the #30dayswild month of June, I was pleased to run across my fifty first hoverfly species of the year, on bankside vegetation by the canal at Forest Farm. There are thirty eight Cheilosia species on the British list at present, many of which are small and black, and generally rather unimpressive, but there are three bigger, furry guys, which are much easier to spot and identify, and Cheilosia illustrata is one of them. Bigger is, of course a relative term: he's still only around 1cm in length, though his fur coat bulks him out a little.
Cheilosia illustrata is a rather unconvincing bumblebee mimic, though a fresh specimen like this, with bright ginger fur on the thorax and the end of the abdomen, would probably pass a cursory inspection by a potential predator. This larvae of this hoverfly develop inside hogweed roots and stems, and the adults can be found wherever hogweed grows abundantly. Because of this breeding association they mainly feed on hogweed too, though they will visit other umbellifers outside the hogweed flowering season. I should, of course, have taken more notice of this plant, so as to be able to tell you authoritatively what it is, but at the time I was too busy stretching over a nettle bed with the camera while trying not to fall in the canal, to be concerning myself with botany.
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