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With the weather warming up, and my family in UK lockdown for Covid-19, I have seen numerous of these flying insects in my and neighbouring gardens. I am concerned about my 2 young kids playing in their garden...

They hover, and do not seem to fly like a wasp or a bee. But I know nothing, so looking for assistance.

Garden flying insect.jpg

They seem to be territorial, i.e. 1 hovers outside the back door around my waist to head height. I have tried to watch it over a period of time. It seems to swap between a few slightly different spots in the same location. They also seem to fly off joined to another flying insect out of my sight - fighting? swapping pollen? quick hug? no idea... Then a single insect returns to fly in the same location.

There is a second insect that seems to be near the kid's play house in another corner at the other end of the garden.

They are not attacking humans, but behave differently if a human is within its "zone". Youngest (boy, 2yo) approaches it intrigued and babbling nonsense at it. Once moved, the insect resettles nearby or moves slightly away.

I only have grass on my lawn, no plants. there are some bright kids toys dotted around, particularly where the insects seem to patrol (near door & play house).

Hope I have explained this sufficiently.

What are they? Should I be concerned? What is their typical behaviour? Can I do anything about this?
 

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I wish I could answer your question, but being in western US, I'm not familiar with your critters. I'm sure a UK beekeeper will chime in soon.

the pic doesn't give much detail or sense of scale, but it does seem to be some type of bee. Perhaps a carpenter or mason bee? In the US we have agricultural universities with extension offices for the public use, and they usually have papers available online with extensive information on native fauna & flora. I guess the UK has some similar source of information.

I presume that if it avoids human contact, then simply leaving it alone would be a safe course of action. but watch to see if it is boring holes in woodwork (carpenter bee) or if it is filling existing holes with mud (mason bee). Such behavior would help ID the critter.
 

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@hops - thanks for the initial response. I tried watching each to see if they fly off to other areas in their "cycle", and scanned the area for concentrations of others, i.e in masonry and other areas. Though they could have a nest just out of my garden, and I suppose I wouldn't know...

@GregV - It does have a hovering flying style, so I had thought it to be a hoverfly. I hoped a forum such as this may have a "bee spotter" who could identify it!

2nd photo, attempting to show scale better. Around an inch in length. Physically, it does look similar to the female E Tenax, but the territorial behaviour I would expect of the male. But it is not flying over any flower beds - just grass and some bright coloured kids toys.

Hover fly 2.jpg

Been told tonight that 1 landed on my boy's head today, much to his amusement (the idiot!). So wondering if I can persuade them to move on?!
 

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Since it landed on your son's head, hopefully it isn't a blowfly. :eek: Hoverflies around here typically hang out near flowers as they eat nectar and pollen.
 

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Not a blow fly. Even if it was, as long as there is no open wound you'd be okay.

From the pic and description I'd say w/ 90% certainty that it is a Syrphid--hover fly. They often are mistaken for a bee of some type and the behavior you describe is classic mating behavior. When they fly off together they are probably mating.

This is a somewhat cryptic family in that not much is known, comparatively, about them. Larvae are often referred to as rat tail maggots and live in really moist, rotting organic matter.

The grass w/ colorful toys may be enough for these males to set up posts. Just because it normally hovers over flower beds does not mean they always do. These ones may have skipped that class growing up.

I'd just ignore them. No harm will come to you , your family, or your bees.
 
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