A couple of days ago, I had my first encounter with a Hornet mimic hoverfly; as the name states, it's a hoverfly, mimicking a hornet.   

        Hornet Mimic Hoverfly: Nancy Brown

It’s a fly that looks like a big bee… but not quite. At first, we thought it was some sort of hornet, but it didn’t look big enough, or quite like hornets that we’d seen before. After some online research, we discovered that it was a rather large type of hoverfly, a Hornet mimic hoverfly which doesn't sting, is completely harmless with prominent, large brown eyes. Drone flies are a smaller version that mimic honey bees; they are distinguishable from bees as they only have one set of wings, and from wasps as they don't go "in" between the thorax and abdomen, they are sort of one long solid oval shape.

The one we found was very dozy and lapped up the honey water we put out on a teaspoon.

Evolution has equipped these insects with the clever mimicry of looking like a bee, wasp or hornet as a way of defence against predators that may be interested. These beautiful, shiny hover flies, like many other flying insects are valuable pollinators in the garden and across our crops.

Having a variety of insects in the garden not only presents us with a fascinating world of miniature wildlife to discover, but demonstrates that there is a wide range of biodiversity in our little (or large!) outside space. Having a variety of plants and habitats around the garden encourages insects that pollinate our plants, feed on other garden pests and provide food for birds.

When you next think you’re looking at a honey bee in the garden, take a closer look in case it is in fact the master of disguise; a Drone fly or a large Hornet mimic Hoverfly!


The Flatford Wildlife Garden currently remains closed but re-opening details will be posted in advance on this blog and the main Flatford webpage. The Flatford team continue to encourage wildlife through their own gardening projects and very much look forward to sharing wildlife gardening experiences with you when we reopen.