Volucella zonaria (Poda, 1761)
Biology & ecology:
The larva is a scavenger and a predator in the nests of social wasps (including the hornet Vespa crabro), where they probably feed on larvae and pupae. This is our largest and most spectacular hoverfly and seems to be entirely anthropogenic in Britain. It is usually seen visiting flowers in suburban areas where it occurs in parks and gardens. Many recent records come from civic amenity plantings around car-parks and urban roads.
Verrall (1901) only knew of two specimens, and until about 1940 it was regarded as a rare vagrant to the south coast of England, and greatly prized by collectors. During the 1940s and 50s, it became established in the London area, a few coastal localities in southern England and in the Bristol area (Morris & Ball, 2004b). It has undergone a rapid range expansion in the past 20 years and now occurs north to Hull and Cheshire.
Status & conservation:
This species has undergone a considerable expansion in both range and frequency since the mid 1990s. It is particularly well recorded because of its occurrence in gardens which leads to many reports and photographs from casual observers being submitted to websites.