Wednesday, August 8, 2012

black and yellow and buzzy

alpine hoverflies

Little hoverflies buzz over the alpine flowers, although not usually in this density. There were also bigger hoverflies.
And then there were these:
James had seen a hornet warning at the bottom of the mountain path. And this caused us to notice the yellow and black stripyness of the enormous things buzzy around us every few minutes along the path. But Asian hornets are a like Fuji-san in the sense that they are so massive and dramatic that when you see the real thing you know it. And the behaviour of these didn't seem quite the same. Hornets can hover but they tend to fly with motivation - i.e. angrily towards something. These were sitting near the path and would loop, or figure of eight the two of us, 2-10 times as we walked past their territory. The best we could come up with was that they were stripped down happy mountain hornets. However, after return and much Googling, I found a British reference to a "hornet mimic hoverfly". And cropping my photo (I didn't want to get too close!) reveals a relatively smaller face, bigger eyes, and, crucially, the lack of bee-crushing mandibles, and inclusion of some kind of stabbing mechanism. They were, however, absolutely huge, but then so are our hornets, so I guess they have upped their game compared to the European ones...


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