Baccha elongata in January

I was climbing trees down in Tonbridge, Kent on Monday (25th Jan 2015) when I spotted this little hoverfly approaching a sun-warmed spot at the base of a tree. It was an unseasonably warm and sunny day and we had already seen a red admiral butterfly and a bumbleebee fly by, but this hoverfly was a real surprise.

Baccha elongata is a distinctive little hoverfly, with a long abdomen and a waisted appearance much like an ichneumon wasp. Their flight period is from April onwards so a January observation is certainly out of character. The butterflies and bees are less surprising – they overwinter as adults and so can take to the wing when the temperatures rise – but these hovers overwinter as larvae meaning this is a freshly emerged individual.

B. elongata is quite a common and widespread woodland species, often found in sunny patches. I spotted this one warming itself on such sunny ivy leaves at the base of a false acacia on the edge of a copse of trees.



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