Friday, 13 August 2010

Magnificent Milesia

Now we are in high summer and the temperatures are reliably warm, some of our biggest insects are emerging. This year seems to be a good one for the rather uncommon hoverfly Milesia crabroniformis. This huge fly is a hornet mimic, and one of the best. It is completely unthreatening though, unable to bite or sting, it just flits from flower to flower sucking nectar, pollinating as it goes.

Male.

Female.
Anyone care to guess how I can be sure one is male and the other is female from these photos? The answer is staring you in the face!

Susan

9 comments:

Jean said...

Is it that the male's eyes are closer together ?

Diane said...

The male's eyes look closer together, he also looks like he has heavier legs. I have to say I would have though this was a wasp or a hornet!! Diane

Anonymous said...

hermaphrodites?

chm said...

The male seems to be slightly thinner and his abdomen is much longer.

Word verification is nogushneh. Is that what they call this insect in Japanese?

ladybird said...

The male has hairy, more muscular legs???

ladybird said...

And he has two extra legs ?? - looking like a pair of spectacles -on his lower body ?!

Susan said...

Good creative thinking Anon :-) but Jean and Diane are right - it's the eyes. The male also seems to have hairier legs as Diane and Martine observed, but I am not sure if that is just a general variation between individuals, or whether it is connected gender. I think he is also slightly more slender as CHM noticed. It is common for female flies to be bigger than males. I'm pretty sure he has the regulation number of legs though, Martine :-)) - the female has the spectacles pattern too, but somewhat fainter.

Diogenes said...

Well these pictures are just amazing. How do you know what all these creatures are Susan? You are so knowledgable - did you study zoology?

Susan said...

Diogenes: I studied field taxonomy, which is the science of naming species in the field.

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