Insect Stories: Hornet Mimic Hoverfly

Star object of our collection – Hornet Mimic Hoverfly: an essential pollinator

Entomology Manchester

Female of the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria) from the Manchester Museum’s entomological collection. © The Manchester Museum

Our star species in this month is a summer visitor to the UK, the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria) of the family Syrphidae, also known as Belted Hoverfly. Although it looks very similar to the European Hornet (Vespa crabro), with black and yellow stripes across its abdomen, it is absolutely harmless to humans. The fly mimics the Hornet both in size and in the appearance, and even makes a similar buzzing noise while flying.

Adults of the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly can reach 2 cm in length, and as such it is the largest hoverfly species in the UK. Its yellow face and forehead, big eyes and orange-yellow and black stripes on the abdomen are its characteristic features. V. zonaria is a migratory species, occurring from the…

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