Sunday, November 6, 2022

Good News Bee, er... Fly


A couple of weeks ago I was in these mountains around Centralia, PA. I was hunting for plant fossils on a big patch of exposed shale; I'll be showing off the fossils I found in an upcoming blog soon. Among many pleasant sights of the day, this...

It was buzzing around ostentatiously, making noise, and flying near me. I thought it was an aggressive wasp at first because of the bright yellow and black stripes. It flew away before I got a better look. Only after seeing the photo did I realize it was a big fly. It's a hover fly or flower fly -- a harmless wasp mimic. It's common name is the Yellowjacket Hover Fly. Click to enlarge.

You can see the tell-tale fly features: a single pair of wings, compound fly eyes, and short antennae. They presumably evade the attention of fly predators by looking like wasps. They actually are helpful pollinators and their larvae eat aphids. All good.

I am not often impressed by an insect's personality, but I felt like that fly wanted to be noticed. Later I read that in some parts of the country hover flies are called "good news bees" because of their habit of hovering nearby as if wanting to tell you something.

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