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Hidden in plain sight

January 1, 2022

The fly family Syrphidae comprises insects commonly known as Hover Flies. Adult hover flies feed on nectar and pollen and are often found ‘hovering’ around flowers, hence the name. They are an important pollinating group of insects.

Hover flies are harmless to humans having no biting or stinging capability. This harmlessness makes them susceptible to predation. To mitigate this hover flies exhibit Batesian mimicry to different extents. Batesian mimicry is a form of biological resemblance whereby a harmless organism e.g. a hover fly, mimics an organism with warning capability i.e. sting or colouration, with the hope that it is mistaken for something dangerous and left alone. At the minimum this mimicry in hoverflies consists of black and yellow colouring so as to resemble bees. The previous insect blog described the mimicking characteristics of a harmless drone fly, a species of hover fly.

At the moment Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) is flowering attracting many species of insects (and insect photographers!). Yesterday’s ‘find’ was a black and yellow wasp, pictured above. Trying to identify it proved more difficult than photographing it. After several hours of unsuccessful research I noticed the antennae of the insect were short and stubby, pictured below, much more fly-like than long, bent wasp antennae. Another hour of trawling the web revealed the creature to be a Wasp-mimic Hover Fly (Ceriana (Sphiximorpha) breviscapa). Unless you are close enough to note it only has one pair of wings and those antennae, it looks for all intents and purposes like a more dangerous Potter Wasp.

Batesian mimicry to the max!

One Comment leave one →
  1. karen brisbane-bullock permalink
    January 4, 2022 8:28 am

    Great photos

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