Similarity in flight behaviour between the honeybee Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) and its presumed mimic, the dronefly Eristalis tenax (Diptera: Syrphidae)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2001
Authors:Y. C. Golding, A. Ennos, R., Edmunds, M.
Journal:The Journal of Experimental Biology

is a Batesian mimic of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Previous work has established that the foraging behaviour ofdroneflies is more similar to that of its model than to that of other more closely related flies, suggesting that behaviour may be important in the mimicry. Locomotor mimicry has been demonstrated in mimetic Heliconius butterflies but not in hoverflies. This study therefore investigated aspects of the flight behaviour of Eristalis tenax, Apis mellifera and two other flies, Syrphus ribesii and a Musca sp. Insects were filmed foraging on Helichrysum bracteum flowers, and flight sequences were analysed to determine flight velocities, flight trajectories and the percentage of time spent hovering. It was found that the flight behaviour of droneflies was more similar to that of honeybees than to that of the other flies. This suggests that the flight behaviour of Eristalis tenax may be mimetic.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith