Melanostoma mellinum (Linnaeus, 1758)
A very variable species. It was rumoured to have been split into up to five species by revisionary work in Europe, but this has yet to be published and recent DNA analysis (ref) has largely disproved such interpretations.
Biology & ecology:
The larva is aphidophagous and has been reared on a wide range of aphid species in the laboratory. However, despite the abundance of adults, larvae have rarely been found in the wild. Rotheray (1993) suggests they are general predators of aphids found amongst leaf litter. It appears to be double brooded, with two peaks in adult abundance in May and again in mid-summer, but it can be found throughout most of the season from March through to November.
Widely distributed and abundant in all types of grassland including moorland to high altitudes.
Status & conservation:
One of the commonest small hoverflies throughout Britain and with a tendency to have been found more frequently over time.