Beauty in the Backyard Habitat

By Helen Fischel, Associate Director, Education

Several years ago I certified our backyard as a habitat through the Delaware Nature Society/National Wildlife Federation program. Not only does water, shelter, and a place to raise young exist in the spaces surrounding the house, but there is also tremendous diversity of life that surprises me season after season and year after year.  

During one of my latest lawn mowing sessions the following was observed: honey bees collecting pollen (check out the back legs), ants grooming aphids, and paper wasps all on blooming native plants.  These photos show my wildlife discoveries amidst all the flowers.

These spectacular sights continue to intrigue me. I love to mow the lawn since it is one more way to spend time outside looking for the diversity of life in the Fischel backyard landscape. 

Consider giving yourself the gift of a Certified Backyard Habitat this year.  The Delaware Nature Society will be happy to assist you in your efforts to bring more beauty to the backyard!

Prize Alert!  The first person to correctly identify the insect in the last (bottom) photo will win a Backyard Habitat Consultation and a free tree to help attract wildlife.  Use the “Comments” section to submit your guess.

7 thoughts on “Beauty in the Backyard Habitat”

  1. It is a male fly of the Syrphinae subfamily. To be sure of the genus or species, it would be necessary to have a better view of the abdomen. It looks like Toxomerus geminatus, but there is no way to be sure from this photo. See: http://bugguide.net/node/view/11990.
    Goldenrods are wonderful for wildlife watching with a couple of hundreds of species of flower visitors, not to mention all the gall makers and other herbivores. That is why it is so much fun to lead a “Goldenrod Zoo Walk”.

  2. Thank you for all of the great responses to the challenge of identifying this insect! This is a good example of how hard it is too identify insects by photograph, and how you may only be able to narrow it down to the family (but not species) level.

    All that said, this is a type of flower fly (also commonly known as a hover or sweat fly) that is in the Order Diptera. This type of hover fly belongs to the family Syrphidae. The fly’s coloration is an adaptation to mimic bees or other members of the Order Hymenoptera that visit flowers. These flies are valuable pollinators of flowers, and goldenrods are one fo the best native flowers to attract such pollinators.

    Congratulations to Kay Greene on her first correct answer placing this insect in the Syrphid family. Other submissions calling it a hover fly or flower fly are very much correct as well!

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