If people watched me doing what I do, they’d probably think I was crazy. This morning I spent some time watching what I first thought was bumblebee digging around in a purple thistle. How many people do that? I was initially interested for at least a couple of reasons.
This particular insect was working very hard to get as deep into the thistle as it could. Sometimes it was so deep into the flower that it was essentially invisible. And the bee, or perhaps “bee,” looked a bit odd to me. It was smaller than the average bumblebee. The markings on the back looked different. So I started to investigate bee species, trying to find out what kind it might be.
As a result of that investigation, I think this might not be a bee at all but a bee mimic. The fly species Eristalis anthophorina and Eristalis flavipes are both bee mimics and the photos I found of them are the closest matches I’ve found to this creature. There are many species of these bee mimics, also called flower flies. Here’s a link to some information about these flies, which are seen at least as far south as western West Virginia but apparently are more common in Canada and the more northern states. However, information about them is spotty at best, at least online.
Nature does this to me a lot. I started out this morning just looking for something to photograph. With the mornings growing darker each day, the areas I can explore before I head to work are shrinking with each lessening minute of daylight. Those areas are now so familiar to me that it’s hard for me to see them with a new eye or to photograph something there that you readers haven’t see before. But then a purple thistle caught my eye and what seemed like an ordinary bumblebee gathering pollen suddenly turned into something entirely new. How can anyone grow tired or bored when something so simple as a bee on a thistle turns into something entirely different and new?