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Bee mimic

Volucella bombylans – male

Volucella bombylans – male

The hover-fly Volucella bombylans, male pictured above, uses Batesian Mimicry to imitate the Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus Lapidarius. Batesian mimicry is where a palatable or harmless species has evolved to imitate the warning signals of a harmful or inedible species. In this instance a stinging bumblebee. It is named after the English naturalist and explorer Henry Walter Bates (1825-1892).

Interestingly this hover-fly exists in several colour forms in the UK, the other common form var.plumata which has a white tail has evolved to mimic the White-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lucorum and/or the Buff-tailed Bumblebees Bombus terrestris.

There is also a much rarer form var. haemorrhoidalis which is said to mimic the Common Carder Bee Bombus pascuorum although to me its colouration much more closely resembles that of the Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorum.

What do you think?

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great shot!

    March 11, 2015
  2. There seems to quite the variety of those mimic bee-fly-things. I’ll have to read more about Batesian mimicry — definitely an interesting subject!

    March 11, 2015
    • It is, as is Müllerian mimicry which it is often compared to, named after the naturalist Fritz Müller. This is a form of mutually beneficial mimicry between two or more species.

      March 11, 2015
  3. As if it isn’t hard enough trying to ID things! 😉

    March 11, 2015

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