Who is the real wasp

The difference between a stinging wasp and a harmless hoverfly trying to mimic it can be small, but easier to see if you know what to look for

Some hoverflies use mimicry to look like wasps

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Mimicry can be about trying to look like a stinging predator, when you are a harmless hoverfly, and if it just works some of the time it is better than nothing at all

Many species of hoverflies often resemble bees, bumblebees and wasps for the untrained eye. And even more trained nature experts can make mistakes as the insects fly past. The same can predators like birds, and they tend to avoid what could turn out to be a stinging wasp, rather than take a chance. It is a form that the experts call Batesian mimics (wikipedia link)

But there are a few easy signs that it is a hoverfly and not a wasp you are looking at. Most easy to spot is it that the wasp has four wings, while the hoverfly only has two .

Another sign is that the wasp has long black antenna, while the hoverfly only have short, small ones. But the hoverfly even found a way to try to convince us otherwise. Using its black front legs mimicking black long antennas, by placing them in front of its head.

The two watercolors are first the hoverfly: temnostoma-vespiforme, and then the real wasp thing: common wasp – Vespula vulgaris (Almindelig-gedehams )

watercolor of hoverfly and wasp, guess what is the real wasp drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt
Guess who is the real wasp illustration
Hoverfly - Temnostoma-vespiforme. Watercolor by Frits Ahlefeldt
Dw00758 – Hoverfly – Temnostoma-vespiforme
Watercolor of common wasp - Vespula vulgaris. By Frits Ahlefeldt
Dw00744 – Common wasp – Vespula vulgaris ( Almindelig Gedehams )

Keywords: biodiversity, nature, insects, watercolor, watercolours

Log, text and illustrations by Frits Ahlefeldt. FritsAhlefeldt.com

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