Yellowjacket mimic

A Yellowjacket hoverfly

Yellowjacket hoverfly

A Yellowjacket hoverfly

Yellowjacket hoverfly

This little creature certainly looks like something very formidable and dangerous. It has the prominent yellow and black coloration of many insects that have painful bites or stings.  Prominent coloration to advertise danger to potential predators is called aposematic coloration. Insects evolve these prominent colors to advertise that they can bite, sting, or do not taste good.

However, the creature pictured here is not dangerous or unpalatable. It is a Yellowjacket Hover Fly (Milesia virginiensis), and it has no sting or toxic properties. It mimics something harmful to gain protection for itself. This form of deception is called Batesian mimicry, after the famous English naturalist Henry Walter Bates, who first described it.

There are many species of hover flies. They are able to hover in one spot during flight. Many eat nectar, but some are predators of other insects.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.