Species: Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria)

Family: Hoverflies (SYRPHIDAE)

Category: Insects (Other)

Location: Widespread

A. Insects (Other)

More extensive information on insects can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Hoverflies (SYRPHIDAE)

True to their name, the hoverflies hover around flowers, and then alight to feed on nectar and pollen. They are very important pollinators, and despite the fact that some look like wasps or bees, this is just mimicry and helps to keep potential predators at bay. Hoverflies have no sting, and have short, drooping antennae. The larvae are as useful as the adults, in that they feed on aphids.

We have a photograph-filled blog post about all the hoverflies that we have seen in the Cemetery that may be worth your time.

C. Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria)

The Hornet Mimic Hoverfly is a large hoverfly with a wingspan of up to 2 centimetres. Hoverfly advocate Dr Erica McAlister, senior curator at London's Natural History Museum, thinks of this hoverfly as "basically a flying tank"! As its name suggests, it mimics a hornet - by size, by appearance and by flight. It has no sting and is harmless. It has been recorded in the south and south-east of England, particularly in parks and gardens. This splendid creature is capable of "buzz pollination". Gripping firmly onto petals and vibrating its large body, it releases otherwise stubbornly attached pollen from plants.

This mimicry affords the insect several advantages: it reduces the number of predators that might be tempted to snack on it, and because females lay their eggs in wasp and hornet nests, the larvae live in these nests being tended by the rest of the colony. Think of this fly as being a cuckoo of the insect world!

Volucella zonaria is on the Sussex Rare Species Inventory.

Images

Volucella zonaria (Hornet Mimic Hoverfly)

Volucella zonaria is capable of "buzz pollination". Gripping firmly onto petals and vibrating its large body, it releases otherwise stubbornly attached pollen from plants.

The individual photographed here is a male. As with all hoverflies, females have their eyes spaced further apart.

Volucella zonaria (Hornet Mimic Hoverfly)

The Hornet Mimic Hoverfly is a large hoverfly with a wingspan up to 4cms. As its name suggests, it mimics a hornet - by size, by appearance and by flight. It has no sting and is harmless.

Volucella zonaria (Hornet Mimic Hoverfly)

The Hornet Mimic Hoverfly is a large hoverfly with a wingspan up to 4cms. As its name suggests, it mimics a hornet - by size, by appearance and by flight. It has no sting and is harmless.