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Posts from the ‘Hover-Flies’ Category

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).

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The Pellucid hoverfly

Pellucid hoverfly, Volucella pellucens – female

Volucella pellucens – female

Here’s a photo of one of our largest flies, the Pellucid or Large Pied-hoverfly Volucella pellucens that I took back on the 8 July 2012 in Marlborough while I was in the middle of a RiverFly survey on the River Og. Pellucid means transparent or translucent and in this instance refers to the ivory-white band across the abdomen, which if caught in the right light enables you to see through its middle. This and the dark spot on each wing makes this species quite easy to identify in the field.

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Sunbathing hoverfly

Hover-fly Helophilus pendulus

Helophilus pendulus

I took this photo of the Hoverfly Helophilus pendulus last September. Hoverflies seem to enjoy the sunshine and can often be found sunbathing. I believe this is the female. This species which is often found in gardens can be identified by its yellow face and black stripe between the eyes and the distinctive longitudinal stripes on its thorax.  Read more

Hornet imitator (Volucella zonaria)

Volucella zonaria

Volucella zonaria

This is our largest Hover-fly Volucella zonaria and quite a whopper it is too at about 2cm in length. It’s a mimic of the hornet Vespa crabro. The female uses this disguise in order to lay eggs in the hornet’s nest, the parasitic offspring then feed on the victim’s larvaeThey’re not exactly common but easy enough to identify by their large size. As you can see it has a mainly orangey-yellow abdomen with dark bands, a yellow bottom and an almost varnished mahogany look to the thorax. And just look at those huge brown eyes and that big pointed yellow face. Once you’ve seen one they’re pretty unmistakeable. Read more