Another sighting of the Pine Hoverfly, Callicera rufa, on the Sefton Coast


Callicera rufa female, Ainsdale, May 2021 (Pete Kinsella).

Following on from the discovery of the Pine Hoverfly, Callicera rufa, at Formby in 2020 (see article), I visited that site on several occasions during May 2021, but failed to find it again. The weather during most of May however was unseasonably cold and wet, so not ideal for an insect that basks on sunlit pine trunks.

The afternoon of the 25th May however was sunny and warm and seemed suitable for a search in the pinewoods. Ainsdale NNR is several kilometres to the north of the Formby sighting, but it has extensive pine stands, with lots of decaying trees, ideal for the species, so I headed there.
Scanning many south facing and sunlit pine trunks eventually paid off, when I spotted the shiny, golden shape of Callicera rufa sat on the bark , just a few metres away.

Unexpectedly this insect was a female, the previous sightings at Formby involving the more frequently seen and highly active territorial males, so it was less flighty and allowed a few minutes of close observation, before it towered up into the canopy. I speculated in the blog last year that further searching of these pinewoods might well turn up more individuals of this Nationally Scarce insect and it would appear that there is an established population now present in the pinewoods along the Sefton Coast. Since drafting this note, a further record was made on 1st June; a male was spotted by Phil Smith at Devil’s Hole, Formby, which is much closer in proximity to the original 2020 discovery.