Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nigella's secret admirer

I've been patiently waiting for months for this day to arrive, when our love-in-a-mist (Nigella) plants, sown from seed last autumn, finally burst into spring bloom. So, diligent little gardening blogger that I am, camera in hand, I trotted out this morning to take a few photos of these delicate pretties, only to find another admirer already in residence, sipping on some nigella nectar. 

This little person is definitely not a bee, nor is it a fruit fly or
a wasp, but I wasn't quite sure who he or she is.
Fortunately for me this garden visitor was not the flighty,
frantic kind of operator that your normal honeybee is. Instead,
it stayed in place, long enough for me to manage a few good
ID shots. Later, I Googled away and soon discovered its name
(I think...): it's a wasp-mimicking hoverfly, an insect that's found
in gardens Australia-wide. I only say "I think" because it could
also be a black-banded hoverfly. I'll leave the correct identification
up to the entomologists.

Almost lost in the hubbub of our pretty visitor, the love-in-a-mist
blooms are as lovely as ever, as this isn't the first time I've grown
or blogged about them. I sowed a packet of Yates Persian Jewels
mix, the only nigella seeds I could find, and a very parsimonious
packet of not-many seeds it was too, so to make sure of a
decent spring show I bought and sowed another packet soon after.
The Persian Jewels mix is meant to
include white, blue and pink but so far
there have been no pinks at all.
The plants themselves are unimpressive
but dainty, multi-branched with a flower
head at the end of each fine stem, on
plants about 50cm high. These colourful
flowering types aren't the variety of Nigella
used to supply the spice called Nigella. That
comes from a similar but different plant,
Nigella sativa, which has white flowers
and bigger pods later on, filled with the
small dark black seeds used in cooking.
As for our garden visitor, the wasp mimicking hoverfly (or
maybe it's the black banded hoverfly), this is a garden good-guy
who likes to feast on juicy aphids and scale insects. Even if
it didn't do anything especially useful, it'd still be welcome
here because, as always, I am merely sharing this garden
space with all creatures great and small, I don't own it. 


Unknown said...

Hello! Looks like a hover fly on your Nigella to me :)

Jamie said...

Thanks for that Benjamin. As I said in my blog several times, I know it's a hover fly but I am not sure which type of hover fly.