TMS caught out by Batesian mimic?

England won the second test match yesterday on a very warm day.  After listening to see whether Bresnan would get a hat-trick (he didn’t) I nipped out to post some copies of my book to very astute purchasers.   This is becoming a regular afternoon outing and that’s fine by me.

My route takes me through the graveyard behind the local methodist church (once the place of work of David Frost‘s father) and on a hot day like yesterday there were plenty of butterflies to be spotted; meadow brown, gatekeeper, holly blue, small white, large white, green-veined white and red admiral.  I sat in the sun and watched them for a while.

There were also lots of hoverflies and I suspect that some of the chat by Tuffers, Aggers, Blowers and Vic Marks about wasps at Trent Bridge may just have been about hoverflies (as at least one listener suggested to them).

And it is no accident, probably, that hoverflies look like wasps, bees and bumblebees.  They are, I guess, what are known as Batesian mimics, named after Henry Walter Bates, a famous bug-hunter who studied the phenomenon of nice-tasting species resembling nasty-tasting species in order to escape being eaten.  Makes sense doesn’t it – if you are yummy then look like something that is an emetic when eaten and you might just get away with it.

I don’t know what bees and wasps taste like, must try them some time, but I do know they have a sting at one end and hoverflies do not.  So maybe hoverflies are trying to look dangerous beasts.

And the number of signatories calling on Chris Patten NOT to scrap the BBC Wildlife Fund has passed 2300 now.  Thank you to all who have already signed.


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