Stenocorus meridianus

One of the UKs largest Longhorn Beetles

Longhorn Beetles get their name from their typically long antennae. Many are very colourful and may show sexual diamorphism. The adults feed on pollen while the larvae are almost all wood-feeders, eating living and dead timber.

Stenocorus meridianus is found throughout southern and central England. Adults are generally seen on flowers in June and July, but during a warm spring may be active from mid-May onward. The larvae feed on broadleaf trees, although UK Beetles notes that the age and condition of the wood and the presence of fungi is important in deciding a host.

The beetle in the photo is a female, being characterised by the black prothorax. Other distinguishing features include long, dark antennae with a pale orange base and very long dominantly orange legs with dark apices of the femora and tibiae, and the entire tarsi black.

Bombylius major

The Dark-edged Bee-fly is a parasitic bee mimic fly

The Dark-edged Bee Fly, or Large Bee-fly, is the commonest of four species species of Bee-fly found in the UK. They appear a bit like bumble bees with their furry bodies, but have a long proboscis used for drinking nectar from flowers. The Dark-edged Bee Fly is identified by the dark leading edges to it’s wings, most clearly seen when the insect is at rest.

Bee-flys are parasitic on solitary bees. Females will hover above the next holes of solitary bees and flick eggs into the hole. To facilitate this, the females will first collect dust and fine soil with which they coat the eggs prior to flicking into the bee’s nest holes.

Dark-edged Bee Flies are typically seen on the wing in March through to May or June, and are particularly active on warmer, sunny days.

Oedemera noblis

The Thick-legged Flower Beetle, also known as the Swollen-thighed Beetle, prosaic names for a spectacularly iridescent insect

Oedemera noblis is now a not uncommon beetle in large parts of southern Britain. However, as recently as the early 1990s it was relatively scarce.

The males have greatly enlarged femora, hence the common names, but this is absent in females, as above.

They can be found on a range of flowers from April through to August eating pollen, usually in bright sunshine when they are most active. They have bright metallic green elytra that are typically pointed and gaping.

Cercopis vulnerata

A gaudy member of the Froghopper family

The Red and Black Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata) is a brightly coloured froghopper, and, according to British Bugs, found throughout Britain south of the Scottish Highlands.

They occur in a wide variety of setting, including parks and gardens as well as forest edges.

Froghoppers take their name from their ability to jump using their saltatory (extended) back legs. The insect has been recorded making jumps of up to 70 cm.

Ephemera vulgata

A species of Mayfly found along the River Thames

Ephemera vulgata is characterised by spotted wings and dark triangular markings on the sides of it’s abdomen.

The adults emerge in spring and early summer near ponds and slow moving rivers. It is found along the River Thames where nymphs burrow into the muddy sediments. In contrast, the similar Ephemera dancia, or the ‘Green drake‘, is typically associated with clear water rivers with gravel or sandy bottoms.

Although not uncommon, Ephemera vulgata is in decline with documented threats including reductions in water quality (increasing pesticides and heavy metals) and light pollution.

Xanthogramma pedissequum

An eye catching hoverfly with an unusual life cycle

Xanthogramma pedissequum is an eye catching hoverfly on the wing from May to September.

It’s an uncommon hoverfly, with records in the National Biodiversity Network Atlas suggesting a quite localised distribution throughout central and southern England.

According to Wikipedia, the larval stages are associated with Black garden ants (Lasius niger) and Yellow meadow ants (Lasius flavus) and probably feed on ant-attended root aphids.

The photograph was taken during the last week of April in a hay meadow adjacent to the Thames at the Earth Trust, Little Wittenham.