Friday, 26 July 2013

Hoverfly Mimicry

Over the past month there have been quite few hoverflies that mimic bees or wasps about. Some of the mimicry is really good and some less convincing, at least to our eyes. Harmless species that have evolved to look like potentially dangerous or distasteful species are examples of Batesian mimicry. There are many examples in the hoverfly family. Here are some photos that I have taken over the past  few weeks.
Volucella bombylans mimics several bumblebees. This photo shows the red-tailed form which mimics Bombus lapidarius or Bombus rupestris. V. Bombylans also has a white-tailed form mimicing  Bombus lucorum or Bombus hortorum.

Eristalis pertinax mimicing a honey bee.

Myathropa florea mimicing a social wasp

Xylota segnis - is this mimicing a solitary wasp?

Chrysotoxum festivum mimicing a social wasp

There are many others I could have shown. Look carefully at the "bees" and "wasps" and you might be surprised at how many turn out to be hoverflies or indeed other families of fly (Conopidae for example) or other insects such as wasp beetles.