There has been an insect in my garden this last day or two, with a very irritating whining buzz. It is about the size of a bumble bee or a large hover fly, but the sound was nothing like either of these - more like an angry wasp. The way it moves seems more like a fly to me, but the head didn't quite seem to have a typical fly shape. Its thorax is brown and very shiny, like a tiny polished chestnut. I wasn't able to get close enough to get a picture or see much detail as it was very wary and obviously has good eyesight. The wings were held flat over its back at a slight angle outward from the thorax - again more like a fly perhaps,
Any ideas? I will try to get a picture if possible.
Thanks, Florin. I did look at some pictures of bee flies but none to be cerrtain of. Bombylius major seems too furry and too short and round in the body to be the one. Also there was no sign of a long proboscis.
Looking at more pictures, it was more like one of these, (Villa sp perhaps?) except I don't think the eyes were quite so large. But for the aggressive buzzing (set one's teeth on edge!) I would have thought it was a large hover fly.
I haven't seen it since trying to get pictures of it this morning!
Or perhaps this one, found on one of the blogs here! http://www.nhm.ac.uk/natureplus/blogs/diptera-blog/2011/04/12/beeflies
I would go for Epistrophe elegans, this species of hoverfly is common in gardens in late spring to early summer and has as you describe a characteristic whining buzz as they hover in mid-air for seemingly no reason.
That would be my punt - but let’s see if we can get a picture.
Thank you very much, I think you've nailed it! That shiny brown thorax is added evidence - very noticable in the pictures of E. elegans,. I didn't notice any stripes on the abdomen but as I said it was very wary and hard to approach so that's not surprising. It's buzz was certainly distinctive - of the "brain fever" type. If it had been on a tree trunk and many times louder I'd have thought cicada!
I haven't been in the garden much this week and haven't heard or seen it again. It was definitely different from the other common kind of large hover flies that appear in late Summer and early Autumn.
I forgot to mention that it seemed to be around in the mornings on a border next to a wall, when the sun was full on the area. It mostly kept to an area along the border and moved back there after I had passed. I understand that some male hover flies defend a territory, so maybe that was what it was doing?
Finally got some pictures! I definitely saw yellow bands on the abdomen this time, but even the best picture (on the left) isn't all that clear. The smaller one may even be a different fly! There seemed to be a number of hover flies or bees around today and they moved so fast that I had to take a number of pictures from a distance then search the results in detail before copying and pasting the fly out of the much larger picture. I tried using the zoom but the creature had gone before it was possible to refocus!