Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Hover fly on frostweed flowers

with 53 comments

Hover Fly on Frostweed Flowers 8139

On October 19th in Great Hills Park I photographed this little hover fly on some flowers of frostweed, Verbesina virginica. This is the third post in two days that refers to Virginia, even though I photographed both of the relevant plants in Austin, where they’re also native.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 16, 2014 at 5:38 AM

53 Responses

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  1. Beautiful! I live in VA and am enjoying your TX plants with VA references.
    The fly is a nice touch.


    November 16, 2014 at 6:14 AM

    • Now the question is whether you have any plants native to Virginia that have Texas in their names.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 8:43 AM

  2. oooooooooooooooooooooooooOOOO I like this one, something about the shapes and colors and lines yum!


    November 16, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    • It’s nice on an overcast and cold morning to see all those warmly enthusiastic oooooooooooooooooooooooooOOOOs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 8:45 AM

  3. Exquisite little jewel of an insect. Makes me think of Faberge.


    November 16, 2014 at 7:22 AM

    • That’s a good description, a jewel of an insect. I wonder if there’s ever been a human jeweler named Hoverfly, or an insect named Fabergé, for that matter. There have been insects created by Fabergé.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 8:50 AM

      • There should be an insect named Faberge.


        November 16, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        • See if you can convince an entomologist who’s working in an area where new species are being discovered.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 16, 2014 at 9:19 PM

          • Right! And I have already checked the phone book for “Hoverfly”, “Fly” or just plain “Hover”. Apparently these are not popular names for jewellers or others. 😀


            November 16, 2014 at 9:37 PM

  4. I like the compound eyes.

    Jim in IA

    November 16, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    • I’m glad to see you have an interest in them. Let’s call it compound interest.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 8:51 AM

      • It doesn’t work so well these days on the old savings account. 😦

        Jim in IA

        November 16, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        • That’s for sure. The almost-zero interest rate that the government has imposed for the last six years is a kind of tax on those of us who lived within our means and dutifully saved money to support ourselves later on.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 16, 2014 at 8:50 PM

  5. What a beauty…


    November 16, 2014 at 8:11 AM

  6. Beautiful! I enjoyed Gallivanta’s comment and your response. Exactly my thought when I clicked on over.


    November 16, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    • As always, I’m thankful for my macro lens because these insects are small enough that the unaided human eye can’t appreciate all their details.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 9:41 AM

  7. That is a very cool little Syrphid, Steve. Besides the nice detail in the compound eyes, I like the sheen and patterning in the wings also.

    Steve Gingold

    November 16, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    • That iridescent sheen even adds a little bit of color, some of it akin to the attractive (figuratively and literally) red eyes that draw our human eyes to them. I don’t know why this fly often curves its abdomen downward, as shown here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      • Shyness, no doubt.

        I’ve a very nice image of a hover fly on a daisy fleabane with a nice prismatic sheen, but I don’t have it on the website so can’t link to it.
        Maybe we need to have a syrphidoff next.

        Steve Gingold

        November 16, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        • Like Davidoff and Stroganoff, Syrphidoff sounds like a Russian family name.

          If you’re so inclined, you can turn your hover fly picture into a post.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 16, 2014 at 10:12 AM

  8. Great capture. 😀

    Raewyn's Photos

    November 16, 2014 at 12:05 PM

  9. I like everything about this picture. The title alone is rather poetic I must say…Hover fly on frostweed flowers…and the whole image is really elegant, graceful even. It reminds me of better times as I currently feel like a hover fly on for real frost!!! 😉


    November 16, 2014 at 1:05 PM

  10. Love those wings, a most beautiful prismatic reflection I have seen for a while! Outstanding capture, I must mention those big red eyes also, all the details are just fabulous!


    November 16, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    • Yes, it’s quite a cute little creature, and those big red eyes are a real attention-getter, very different from when people have red eyes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 9:07 PM

  11. The weather surely has changed in just under a month. This photo looks so warm and summery — not at all what we’re experiencing tonight. I thought I was ready for winter, but I’m not quite so certain at this point.

    I saw your mention up above of frostweed splitting in places farther north. We’re clearly in for another bout of cold, and it may be that the inland frostweed stands I found in Brazoria County will be my best chance to see the phenomenon this year. If it’s too cold to work Tuesday morning, I may go trekking.


    November 16, 2014 at 8:51 PM

    • Oh, what a difference there’s been since the warm Monday we had just six days ago. I’m never ready for winter (that’s one reason I moved to Texas), so I hope this early cold spell (as much as 20° below average here for this time of year) isn’t an omen of an unusually cold season to come.

      Gook luck on trekking and tracking down some frostweed doing its thing this year. Too cold to work may be cold enough for ribbons of ice. I haven’t seen any in Austin yet this year, and I don’t think the overnight low in my neighborhood has been cold enough—either that, or I missed my first opportunity of the season.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 16, 2014 at 9:17 PM

  12. What an elegant photo!


    November 16, 2014 at 9:50 PM

  13. Love the detail and the delicate petals and fiery colors of the Hover fly. Great shot, great work.


    November 17, 2014 at 2:41 PM

  14. What showy wings! A mighty handsome creature, that.


    November 17, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    • I’m always glad when I see these little hover flies, and this one had bigger and more colorful eyes than most. Photographing them is tricky, though, so I was grateful for getting a few shots that came out okay.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2014 at 6:41 PM

  15. So pretty, those flies. They are under-appreciated, except perhaps by me.


    November 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM

  16. […] If the genus sounds familiar, it’s because frostweed, which you’ve recently seen here with a hover fly on it and doing its ice trick, is Verbesina virginica. To my untrained eyes the two species don’t […]

  17. That hover fly is so colorful. I can imagine it copied for a nature-lover’s brooch.

    Susan Scheid

    November 29, 2014 at 4:22 PM

  18. I am having a good browse through your site Steve as I have just taken delivery of a macro lens and need expert tuition! Actually I need expert tuition for using a camera with interchangeable lenses having spent the last ten years with a digital bridge camera. Your techniques page has already been bookmarked and scrutinized, I shall be visiting it often. Have just been outside to have my first practice with very mixed results! What on earth have I done?

    As an aside, I noticed that 7/10 of your top posts feature insects/bird which is counterintuitive for a wild flower blog 😀


    August 17, 2015 at 1:13 PM

    • That’s good news about the arrival of a macro lens, which I’m sure you’ll come to enjoy once you get the hang of it. As you’ve no doubt noticed, the closer you get to a subject, the more it seems to move about and the shallower the depth of field. Some photographers deal with those drawbacks by putting their camera on a tripod. I’ve chosen to stay in the hand-held world, but I use a shutter speed of at least 1/400 sec to try to freeze any small movements. If you have any specific questions, ask away, and if I know the answer I’ll tell you.

      When I chose Portraits of Wildflowers as the name for this blog, I always intended for some of my subjects to come from the broader realm of nature—especially because insects and spiders often appear on plants. The fact that so many of the favorite pictures here include animals doesn’t surprise me: it reflects the preference of my audience in particular and blog audiences in general. One consequence of that is that if you go through blogs and come across a picture of a butterfly, for example, even if not a good picture, it will usually get a lot of likes, while a finely crafted and hard-to-take photograph of a seed or dying plant or some other thing that’s less intrinsically interesting to the general public will get noticeably fewer likes.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 17, 2015 at 2:14 PM

      • It’s true that blogs about flowers and gardening seem to be less popular, which is why I was so glad to discover yours. I have noticed that the focus moves about A LOT when I got closer to a flower and then read that I should switch to a single focus or use manual focus if I use auto settings. I’ll have a play with the shutter speed and see what happens. I can see this being a long learning curve 🙂


        August 17, 2015 at 5:34 PM

        • My impression is that there are a fair number of blogs about gardening but few about plants from a scientific or artistic point of view.

          You’re sure right about the focus moving about A LOT when you get near a subject with a macro lens. It’s also the case that a camera’s auto-focus system doesn’t function well very close to a subject. I don’t know about your camera/lens, but mine lets me use auto-focus to quickly get “in the ballpark” and then turn the lens barrel to fine-tune that initial auto-focus (that’s sometimes called manual override of the auto-focus). If I anticipate that auto-focus isn’t going to work well in a situation, I switch to manual focus from the outset.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 17, 2015 at 6:11 PM

          • Mmm… I don’t know enough about the lens (or camera) yet, but I don’t think I can override the autofocus, but I can set it to manual, which I may well do for a while and see how that goes. I know you rarely use a tripod, but maybe I’m going to have to try that method too. Should be fun experimenting, but I may not publish another flower photo for a while!


            August 17, 2015 at 6:47 PM

  19. […] If you’d like a reminder of how nice frostweed flowers can look in their prime, and how they appeal to insects, check out this post from 2014. […]

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