Distinctive markings on the abdomen.
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As far as I'm aware this is the only species which has a long, thin body and such distinctive markings. I also think it is only the male which is long and thin, though I'm not a hoverfly expert.
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This is certainly a hoverfly in genus Sphaerophoria, and might be S. scripta, but it's a female (there is a gap between the eyes at the top of the head) and it's not possible to be certain of the species - there are about a dozen species in the genus, and identification to species usually requires microscopic examination of the males.
The only one that can be reliably distinguished in the field is male S. scripta, in which the abdomen stretches back significantly further than the wings, but unfortunately this doesn't work for the females.
Nice photo of a small hoverfly though!
Entomologist and biological recorder
Dear Martin, how many ways are there of identifying different species!?
[My dad] How can you change your identification if you've got it wrong? Ispot doesn't seem to let you edit that bit.
I stand corrected! I didn't realise there were so many Sphaerophoria.
Iris (+ your dad!),
At the moment iSpot is set up so that you can't change an identification. This is so you can see the route that has been taken to arrive at an agreed identification - part of learning how to identify species is to start from haveing a general idea of what it might to, and then narrowing it down, to a species if possible. Also, the system of people giving 'sopt-ons' to others wouldn't work if the identifications were to be edited after someone else had click on the spot-on link.
Anyone else looking at the above identifications can see that you made a sensible suggestion, but that things are a bit more complicated for this species group, and we think that is useful for others to see. There's no reason to feel bad about not getting it completely correct first time round, we all make mistakes when trying to identify wildlife and it's helpful to others to see where the tricky problems lie.
Dear Martin, oh! I can see it makes sense you can't change your identification.
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