Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Nature Note

I've just been out in the back yard, looking for flies. Not blowies, you understand; they're an ordinary pest that you kill on sight as soon as you see them in the house. Actually, you try to chase them into a confined space - like the laundry or the aluminium frame of the kitchen window - before you hit them with a good dose of Mortein (when you're on a good thing, stick to it), Pea-Beu (when you find a better thing, switch to it, particularly if the endorsement money's better) or Black and Gold Insect Spray (when you find a cheaper thing, to hell with celebrity endorsements).

The flies I've been looking for are about blowie size, but remakably bee like - they've evolved protective mimicry. I've notied them around the place at this time of year in the past but it's only today that it occurred to me that they might actually be interesting (in an ugly, disgusting way). It all hinges on whether the brutes evolved to mimic native bees, or European honey bees.

The latter possibility is quite exciting because the European honey bee didn't arrive on this continent until after white settlement. Which means that maybe, just maybe, here in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne (and maybe elsewhere), there's a new species of fly that's evolved in the past 200 years. Either that or the intelligent designer (or one of the intelligent designers), looked in some time and saw the opportunity to tweak the fly design a little.

That's all highly speculative of course; it's much more likely that these uglies have been around for a long time and it's only recently that I've started to notice them. Incidentally, if you want to see them in your own back yard, plant lots of dandelions. They go for those in a big way.

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