If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it's probably a duck.
If it looks like a bee, buzzes like a bee, and visits flowers like a bee, it might not be a bee.
It could be a fly, or more specifically, a syrphid or flower...
FLYING IN--A syrphid or flower fly heads for a newly opened cactus blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
SYRPHID FLY has a specialized bristle or arista on the end of each antenna. It looks like a knob. In comparison, the honey bee has long antennae bent at a right angle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
NECTARING--A syrphid fly nectars on a cactus blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hover flies do know how to hover.
Like a helicopter with spinning blades, the hover fly lingers seemingly motionless in mid-air over a flower before zeroing down to feed on the nectar.
Sometimes they’re called...
HOVERING--A hover fly hovers over a rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora). Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
NECTARING--A hover fly gathers nectar from a rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A PAINTING? No, it's a hover fly Photoshopped. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
To bee or not to bee.
Not to bee.
The flying insect hovering over the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden, UC Davis Arboretum, looked like a honey bee or wasp at first glance. It wasn't. It was a hover fly or syphrid fly from the...
Like a hovering helicopter, the hover fly lingers over flowers in the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden, UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The hover fly, from the syrphid family, works the flowers in the Storer Garden, part of the UC Davis Arboretum. The syphrids, in their larval stage, eat plant-sucking pests or decaying matter, and in their adult stage, they pollinate flowers as they go after the nectar and pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)