Hoverflies: the sheep in wolf’s clothing

Did you know that hoverflies mimic wasps and bees but don’t bite or sting? When it comes to mimicry, they’re a sheep in wolf’s and they’re fun to watch up close at this time of the year. I encourage you to have a closer look at these fascinating creatures.

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. 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!

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.

Nowhere does the hoverfly seem more at home than in flowers – drinking nectar and consuming pollen. The video below (taken with my iPhone) clearly shows how fond they are 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).

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