Monday, July 26, 2010

That's no bee!

This bee mimic was foraging on tiny thistles in the Reifel Island bird sanctuary.

A syrphid fly, probably*.

It's cheating: to simulate bees' antennae, it holds two legs out in front of its head. And it's about the size of a bee, and furry; any bird that skips bees will pass this one by, too.

A bee has four wings. A fly, like this one, has two. Birds aren't supposed to notice this.

Bees have nicely rounded abdomens; syrphid flies' bellies are so thin they look squashed. This one curves downward at the back, so it looks fat from a bird's eye view. From the side, however, the fakery is exposed; that belly is flat!

Notice the unusual shape of the wings; scalloped at the rear end.

I was fooled, too, at least until I got home and looked at the photos. I have advantages a bird doesn't, even with their superior eyes.

* A similar one, from Ontario is here, on BugGuide. Ours is probably in the same Subfamily, Eristalinae.


  1. Very interesting post. It has made me wonder if the bee in my photo is a pretender. :))

  2. Wow, I never would have guessed! When you point out all of the clues, I see the differences ... Thank you for the education!


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