The 12 days of (a wildlife) Christmas – 5 golden hoverflies

For day 5 of our 12 days of (a wildlife) Christmas we’ve swapped 5 gold rings for 5 golden hoverflies – a rare and intriguing hoverfly found only in East Anglia, one of which in Ipswich!

The golden hoverfly is a rare species that lives in wet rot holes in ancient woodlands and parklands. During the summer months the adults will mate and lay their eggs in the wet rot holes of beech, horse chestnut and ash trees being fussy in its preference of tree.

Despite being commonly mistaken for wasps, the adult golden hoverfly is distinct with its ability to hover and has a furry body with long white tipped antennae. Being a true fly, hoverfly species have one pair of wings compared to hymenoptera species like wasps, that have two pairs of wings that you might just be able to spot if they stay still for long enough that is!  

At this time of year, the golden hoverfly is in their larval stage where they are hunkering down feeding on bacteria and microbes as they go through their developing stage. Although the best time to spot this species is in the summer where the adults can, if you are lucky, be seen feeding on nectar rich ivy near ancient woodland, it is rare due to spending most of its time high up in trees.

However if you visit Holywells Park Ipswich your chances of spotting an adult in summer is increased as despite only being spotted in a few locations, we are lucky that it has found suitable breeding and nesting sites in Ipswich!  

So if you venture out for a walk this Christmas in Holywells Park, keep an eye out for holes in trees and perhaps image the larvae of the golden hoverfly eating its microscopic Christmas dinner!