The Hoverfly and the Daisy

Maree Clarkson

Ballito, South Africa

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Artist's Description

The Hoverfly and the Daisy

W&N watercolour on Visual 200gsm
A Hoverfly on a daisy in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)
Hoverflies are not only nice looking insects with an interesting behaviour (hovering!), but are also important pollinators. The hoverflies (Diptera, Syrphidae) are a family of attractive and familiar flies that we all see visiting flowers. Gardeners welcome them because many of the black-and-yellow striped species have larvae which prey on greenfly and bacause of their important role in pollination. These brightly-coloured insects are often confused with bees, but they are in fact true flies and do not sting.
Visiting flowers can be a dangerous occupation for a Hoverfly! Many assassin bugs and crab spiders hide in flowers to capture unwary insects and many are also lost to birds in flight. Insecticides used on blooming plants kill many insects, both by direct poisoning and by contamination of their food supply. I do not use any insecticides in my garden whatsoever – that is “their” home, mine is in-doors; and as plainly as I wouldn’t contaminate my home with obnoxious fumes, so I wouldn’t do it to theirs. A less-than-perfect chewed-by-bugs flower is all the more perfect if it is home to these wonderful little creatures.
In South Africa the adult syrphids can be observed throughout the year. The best season to watch them is spring and summer. Then the adult flies find sufficient nectar and pollen in the blossoms to feed on. Hoverflies can be found all over the country between the sea-shores and the mountains. In total, there are at least 180 species recorded from South Africa. The number of species declines from the north-east to the south-west. However, some species have only or predominately been found in the Western Cape.
The main differences between hoverflies and bees are as follows :

(1) The Hoverfly has very short antennae with a bristle (bees have longer antennae that look quite different).
(2) The mouthparts look different. Flies often have fleshy pads at the end, bees don’t. In bees, the mandibles (jaws) are usually visible, in flies they are reduced.
(3) The Hoverfly has only one pair of wings; there is a pair of knob-like structures instead of the hindwings (bees have four wings, though it’s often not easy to see).
!The easiest characteristic to go buy is usually the antennae!
Read more about South Africa’s insects in my Saturday Chat

27th April 2016 – FEATURED in “The Best of Anything & Everything”
1st May 2016 – FEATURED in “Women Painters”
3rd May 2016 – FEATURED in “Peace, Love and Tranquility”
4th May 2016 – FEATURED in “A Class of its Own Gallery”
4th May 2016 – FEATURED in “The Wonder of Wings”
5th May 2016 – FEATURED in “Afrikaans”
7th May 2016 – FEATURED in “The Art of Watercolour”
12th May 2016 – FEATURED in “Image Writing”
13th May 2016 – FEATURED in “African Art and Photography”

Artwork Comments

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