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Proc Biol Sci. 2000 May 7;267(1446):903-9.

Behavioural mimicry of honeybees (Apis mellifera) by droneflies (Diptera: Syrphidae: Eristalis spp.).

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.


Droneflies (Syrphidae: Eristalis spp. resemble honeybees (Apis mellifera) in appearance and have often been considered to be Batesian mimics. This study used a focal watch technique in order to compare the foraging behaviour of droneflies Eristalis tenax, Eristalis pertinax, Eristalis arbustorum and Eristalis nemorum) whilst they were feeding on patches of flowers with the behaviour of honeybees and other hymenopterans and dipterans. It was found that, on a range of plant species, the time droneflies spent on individual flowers and the time spent flying between them was more similar to that of honeybees than to the times of other hymenopterans and dipterans. These results suggest that dronefly behaviour has evolved to become more similar to that of honeybees and they support the hypothesis that droneflies are Batesian mimics.

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