Syrphid flies engaged in Batesian mimicry: striking iPhone zoom pics

My garden was teaming this weekend with what seemed to be tiny wasps.

I was impressed with their numbers in the hundreds at any one time, and they seemed really hyper. See the image of one below that I captured on my iPhone camera. Note that interesting rainbow effect on the wings and the striking wing veins.

What are these insects I wondered and what are they doing in my yard?

Hoverflies Batesian mimickry

 

A friend of one my kiddos who was playing in our backyard gave me a lesson on them and I was impressed with her knowledge.

Turns out that these are hoverflies or Syrphid flies. They aren’t bees or wasps at all.

Syrphid fly

 

They have evolved to look and behave like fierce creatures so as to avoid being eaten by predators. They even bury their heads inside of flowers as if collecting pollen (above).

The hover flies fooled me and I wasn’t even going to eat them. This form of biological trickery is named after Henry Walter Bates. These flies are a great example of Batesian mimicry.

How can you tell they aren’t bees or wasps? They have only one set of wings and very large eyes, which are give aways to their fly identity. They also have no stingers.

According to a UC Davis article, these are good guys of the garden world as they can eat hundreds of pests like aphids. Perhaps this is why I don’t seem to have any pests in my vegetable garden or on my roses right now. Thanks, hoverflies!

I took these photos with my iPhone equipped with a simple and affordable macrolens.

See past photos of this kind from my garden here with more cool zoomed images and here too.

One thought on “Syrphid flies engaged in Batesian mimicry: striking iPhone zoom pics


  1. They can be mistaken for a house fly when they come inside your home. If there are no flying small insects in your house to catch, the little critters will starve and die. If possible, move them back outside.

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