Saturday, 15 August 2020

Hilary's Hornet Hoverfly


Hornet hoverfly. Photo: Hilary Ash
Hornet hoverfly. Photo: Hilary Ash

A big hoverfly turned up this weekend in my garden and two allotment colleague's gardens. About the length of a buff-tailed bumblebee worker, but slightly slimmer. Chloe at RECORD identified it as "Volucella zonaria, Hornet hoverfly.  So a hornet mimic, a good defence! It's about at the northern end of its range here, and not uncommon."

Chief differences between the Hornet and its mimic hoverfly are that the hornet has a typical wasp waist, which the fly doesn't, and the hornet has fairly small eyes, while the hoverfly has big eyes like other flies. Hoverflies of course cannot sting.


Hornet hoverfly. Photo: Hilary Ash
Hornet hoverfly. Photo: Hilary Ash


Hornets (which despite their reputation are not particular aggressive except in defence of their nest) have been recorded across Cheshire in the last 5 years, the nearest record in the system being west Wirral. So both insects are moving north, but the mimic may be slightly in advance of the thing it mimics!

Dr Hilary Ash


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