You’re taking the mimic!

To the casual obeserver the following insects look like bumblebees. In fact they are hoverflies mimicking bumblebees – very clever impersonators!

Obviously bumblebees have a sting which they use as a deterrent – a young bird which catches a bumblebee will inevitiably get a nasty painful sting. That sting will kill the bumblebee but will act as a deterrent the next time that bird sees a bumblebee. Instead of catching another bumblebee it will go and hunt something else.

By mimicking bumblebees the hoverfly will gain the ‘group’ protection of looking like a bumblebee!

Volucella bombylans
This is the hoverfly Volucella bombylans – it looks very similar to a white tailed bumblebee

Volucella bombylans 3
A close up allows you to see it has fly-like eyes opposed to the much smaller bee-like eyes.

HoverflyThis is the hoverfly Cheilosia illustrata – note all the furry hairs and the red tail – this is mimicing the Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorum.

Funny thing evolution!

2 thoughts on “You’re taking the mimic!

  1. Very interesting Adrian. I think I will have to have a proper look at what’s in the garden now!
    Thanks for showing me the Giant Hoverfly yesterday.

  2. Pingback: The Large Narcissus Fly – A Dartmoor and Devon blog

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