Faking it

September 10, 2017  •  1 Comment

Every year, I try to learn a new group of critters—as well as, of course, add to my attempts to master the identification of old friends—and in 2017, my target has been a group of exceedingly pretty insects known as Syrphids, or, in the common vernacular, Flower Flies. Another name for these inverts comes from their flight habits: they're known as Hover Flies, and you often hear the high-pitched whine of their rapid wingbeats before you see them hovering in place to check out whether or not they think a flower is appropriate. Some of the Syrphids are tiny, barely bigger than a little fingernail, while others are the size of large Yellow Jackets. What makes the group enchanting, besides their vibrant colors, and, in the case of this one, those amazingly striped eyes, is the fact that they often look like various bees. This gives the harmless flies a measure of protection, but it's all an artful evolutionary dodge, since they neither sting nor bite. Spilomyia longicornis is a Yellow Jacket mimic, and a great copy of the original. But it can't do any damage. although when I first encountered it, the Syrphid gave me great pause.


Neat! If i meet one it won't be a friendly one. It will be a yellow jacket!
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