Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Mission Impossible

In late July I encountered these Villa sp. beeflies. The large one is female, the smaller one male.

He creeps up behind her...
She apparently isn't interested and flies off (but only a few centimetres...)

He tries to get close again...
Same thing happens...

Eager to demonstrate his sincere interest, he tries a third time...

Yes! She is allowing him to touch her! Surely this time his persistance will be rewarded?...

...but no, she's off again. What a tease!

...our hero doesn't give up, and is allowed a quick feel...

...however she's still unwilling and shakes him off. He gets really bold and comes round the side to remonstrate. He actually head-butted her at this stage (sadly no photo).
He never did get his leg over. For what ever reason, she determinedly rejected him and finally flew far enough away that he got the point and flew off, rather disconsolately, in the other direction.

Susan

7 comments:

  1. Shame, some women are really not very nice to know! DCiane

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  2. Head butting is not the best way to gain favour with a lady. Perhaps he should have tried a box of chocolates - or the beefly equivalent.

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  3. Jean: The really fascinating thing for me was that he hit her hard enough that I heard the impact. It wasn't just a gentle nudge to gain her attention.

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  4. Amazing that you were able to get these photos...fascinating!

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  5. Great set of observations, Susan.
    That's what natural history is all about... real field observation, not something stuxck in a collectors specimen box by a pin through the abdomen!

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  6. Tim: I don't entirely agree with you. I think you need both, although obviously the specimens with the pin through the abdomen should be for scientific purposes and not just collector's prizes. For instance, without collecting specimens it is impossible to distinguish between many Villa spp and as I didn't collect this pair, I don't know exactly what species they are. My observations lose a little bit because of that. It crossed my mind that these were two different species, or even genera, and that was the reason she rejected him. There are some differences in the wing venation, which is one of the ways to distinguish different beefly genera. However, when I went to pictures of Villa with IDs I trusted, I noticed that they have variations within species - rather unusual for flies. I've asked my expert contact for this family what his opinion is, but he hasn't got back to me.

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