Drone-fly hovering over flower-tip, Dorset, England

pic Photographed with a hand-held Nikkormat Ftn camera with Nikkor 50mm standard lens and extension tubes (50mm) and twin flash units on home-made bracket; taken at f16 (at 1/125th shutter speed, flash effective speed about 1/1000th second) on Kodachrome 25 film rated at ISO 25 and processed normally; no filters used.

Manual flash exposure.

Wiltshire, England, June.

The story behind the picture....
"The Drone-fly (Eristalis arbustorum) is a species of hover-fly, many of which not only resemble or even mimic other insects (the Drone-flies mimic Honey Bees) but also have amazing control of flight and are able to hover almost motionless in the air, even in breezy conditions.

"They do this by visually 'locking-on' to a nearby object and, using their incredibly fast senses and reactions, maintain a fixed distance from that object. If the object moves then the Drone-fly/Hover-fly moves the same.

"This particular little Drone-fly was hovering over this flower-tip on which it had 'locked-on'. The flower-tip was being blown about by the gusting breeze but, nevertheless, the game little insect determinedly maintained its fixed distance from it, the effect of which was that it looked as if it was attached to the flower-tip by some invisible wire!

"Fortunately, the Drone-fly kept this up long enough for me to position the camera when the breeze eased and get a couple of shots, and this was the one in focus (and, considering the depth of field at this magnification was only about 4 mm, a fair degree of luck was involved!). The effective speed of the flash managed to 'freeze' all movement of the fly's body but was still not fast enough to freeze the extremely rapid motion of its diminutive wings.

"Occasionally, hovering Hoverflies will maintain position long enough to (slowly) move in close enough for photography - though on one occasion looking through the camera I could see the out-of-focus fly hovering in frame but it didn't seem to be getting any sharper as I moved closer. Of course, the Hover-fly had 'locked-on' to the front of my lens and so was never going to come into focus! I eventually overbalanced from my crouching position and fell unceremoniously head-first into the stinging nettles beyond! Ouch!"

Geoff Doré

Back to Larger Image

Another story ...          Stories... Index

Prints          Image Files Categories          Main Index          Enquiry Form

This page last revised: Jan 2002

Our e-commerce web site with full search facilities is at