Platycheirus at Work

Using an extended proboscis, this slim hoverfly laps pollen from the anthers of a marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) blossom.  Adult Platycheirus sp. (Family Syrphidae) feed on nectar and pollen – unlike the predatory larva which feed mostly on aphids. The labellum (seen opening and closing in the photo below) laps pollen off the anthers. When resting the labellum remains closed, and the proboscis folds up under the head.

Note the movement of the labella. (Image © Adrian Thysse 2011)


Thanks to Heather Penney (MSc. Candidate, Department of Biology, Carleton University) for the I.D.

Addendum: Now identified as a female Platycheirus obscurus (Say, 1824). Thanks to Andrew Young. See comment below.

More information on Syrphid feeding can be found in Foraging Ecology of Hoverflies: morphology of the mouthparts in relation to feeding on nectar and pollen in some common urban species. (Francis Gilbert, Ecological Entomology (1981) 6, 245 – 262.) Also, this review of the Mouthparts of Flower Visiting Insects (Harald W. Krenn et al, Arthropod Structure & Development (2005) 34, 1–40)

[8 May, 2010. Edmonton, Alberta. Nikon D80 with Tamron 90mm DI lens on KenkoPro 1.4x teleconverter. ISO 200, 1/250 sec. @ f40 (effective aperture)  diffused Nikon R1 flash system. Processed in Lightroom 3.3 (cropping, levels, spot removal, sharpening, noise-reduction). Animated gif image made in PhotoScape]

This entry was posted in Addendum, Behaviour, Diptera, Entomology 101, Syrphidae and tagged , , , , .


  1. Andrew Young 10 March, 2011 at 10:13 AM #


    That’s a female Platycheirus obscurus. Nice shot!

    • Adrian Thysse 10 March, 2011 at 10:23 AM #

      Thanks Andrew! And thanks for dropping by. I always appreciate the help with I.D.

      Would you by any chance know the species seen in the sidebar? (Click through for a larger image)

      • Andrew Young 10 March, 2011 at 10:29 AM #

        Hi Adrian,

        Always happy to help!

        That’s a male Eristalis (Eristalis) tenax, a widespread European introduction.

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