Look out! There's a mean old wasp! Mess with him and he will sting you!

Fly that looks amazing like a wasp

Doesn't he look mean? Have you ever messed with one of these things? Chances are if you have, you have been stung and that's no fun at all. Better leave him alone or else you'll get hurt.

Well, that's what he wants you to think!

Look closely at this insect. Is it really a wasp? No. It is really a fly.

You can tell because it has only one pair of wings. Behind that pair of wings are a couple of little flaps--vestigial wings, called "haltares". They flap, just like wings, and apparently they function as a balance organ. The antenna is also a give away. Wasps usually have longer antenna, and the little stubby antenna is pretty characteristic of flies.

If this fly can fool you, what do you think birds think about it? Do you suppose a bird ever gets stung by a wasp? Wouldn't a bird like to eat a nice juicy insect if it could catch it? Do you think maybe a bird would avoid this fly if it thought it was a wasp instead of a nice juicy meal?

There are actually quite a few flies that look like bees or wasps. There are even some moths and beetles that look like bees or wasps. Most of them don't sting or bite, they just make other creatures think that they can.

This guy was hanging on the wall of a garage, in a place where I often see wasps. I don't know if that was a coincidence, or if that is a strategy used by the fly to enhance the effect.

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