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Home > Haith's Wildlife Blog > Adventures with an iPhone - Hoverflies: Masters of mimicry

Adventures with an iPhone - Hoverflies: Masters of mimicry

Monday, 22nd July 2019

Hands up if you know hoverflies mimic wasps and bees but don’t bite or sting? Fascinating, aren’t they?
When it comes to mimicry, they’re a sheep in wolf’s clothing and I encourage you to have a closer look at these fascinating creatures in flight. If you have a smart phone/camera, I encourage you to get up close to one and film it on the slo-mo setting and watch its wing movements as there’s little simple about its flight structure – its movements are mesmerising. Here’s my attempt:
 
 
Rose with hoverlfies

I’ve spent years watching people panic when a harmless hoverfly enters a room – they even have we humans convinced that they look like bees and wasps, don’t they? This works well for the hoverfly outdoors; however, not so well when they’re being batted against a kitchen window with a wet tea towel!
 
Hoverfly

Hoverflies consuming pollen

Outdoors, however, their Batesian mimicry (named after H W Bates who first described it in 1862) puts them in a category best avoided – the ones that sting and taste nasty – which means they seem to go about their business relatively unscathed.
 
Rose of the year

Nowhere does the hoverfly seem more at home than in flowers – drinking nectar and consuming pollen. They’re certainly fond of this rose (Starlight Symphony – Rose of the year 2019 – I’m unsure if hoverflies formally voted, but they seem to agree with the verdict).
 
Rose of the year description

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