Musical Flowers: Jockeying for Position

Oct 19, 2017

You've heard of "musical chairs," that anxiety-driven elimination game involving chairs, music and players.  When the music stops and a chair is eliminated, the players race for the remaining seats. No one wants to be the first loser.

Well, insects, too, play "musical chairs," but with flowers as chairs. The music: the flapping or buzzing of insect wings.

Such was the case this week as two syrphid flies, aka hover flies or flower flies, kept jockeying for the same Mexican sunflower blossom (Tithonia rotundifolia).

It was a close contest between the black hover fly or Mexican cactus fly (Copestylum mexicanum) and the hover fly (probably Eristalis tenax), which is often mistaken for a honey bee. Neither wanted to be the first loser.

Who won? Neither. They abandoned the "fight" and took flight, each heading for a different blossom to forage for more nectar and pollen.

Life is like that.