Hoverflies – bio-mimicry masquerading

Artist – Professor Karen Ingham;

Scientists – Dr Natasha de Vere (National Botanic Garden of Wales) and Andrew Lucas (Natural Resources Wales)

Hoverflies Bio-mimicry spiralsmall

Hoverflies are essential but under valued pollinators. Incredible bio-mimics, they are often mistaken for bees and wasps. This is because they are a prime example of Batesian mimicry, mimicking dangerous species as protection from predation. They also have a voracious appetite for garden pests like Aphids. Over 250 species have been recorded in the UK, and more than 85 species have been found in a single garden. In this sense they are ‘promiscuous pollinators’, pollinating a wide range of plants. This is elegantly illustrated in the research of Dr. Natasha DeVere and Andrew Lucas with their Hoverflies ‘barcodes’, part of the groundbreaking Barcode Wales project. It is the Hoverfly’s ability to change its appearance, its ‘bio-mimicry masquerading’ that fascinates Karen Ingham and that she has explored in this digital textiles based project, which extends her earlier research in ‘Pollinator Frocks’


Ingham has worked with a design concept that plays on the remarkable skill of Hoverflies in mimicking so many other pollinating insects, alluding to a DNA spiral and the metamorphic changes from a simple

brown Rhingia species to the bee like Volucella bombylans. She was also interested in using the bioinformatics data of De Vere and Lucas, which graphically demonstrates the breadth and importance of the Hoverflies pollination habitat. These informatics barcodes

have been integrated into a retro style gingham picnic cloth that acts as a reminder to ‘think before you swat’ as many Hoverflies are mistakenly killed by the public who think they are bees or wasps.