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Bombylius major

Bombylius major
Photo Information
Copyright: Dietrich Meyer (meyerd) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 585 W: 64 N: 2238] (7531)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-05-15
Categories: Insects
Camera: Konika Minolta Dynax 7D, Minolta AF 100 Macro & Kenko tube
Exposure: f/29.0, 1/125 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes (Fill) Flash: Yes
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Bayram's Favorites-1, Dipterans (except Hover flies) of Europe-1 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-05-16 2:07
Viewed: 3461
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 16
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Visitor in the backyard: The Great Gonso

You will remember, back in the good old days there was the cherished Muppet show on TV. The Great Gonso was a jerk, his nose got pinched in every door. Our 11 mm long Gonso (Diptera; Bombyliidae; Bombylius major; Bee fly; Grosser Hummelschweber) may look similar but is an accomplished acrobat. It is visiting the 8 mm wide Veronica persica flower by precision hovering, not even touching.

"Insects cannot fly, according to conventional laws of aerodynamics"(C.P. Ellington, 1996). Let me tell you what garbled thoughts came up when observing this hovering Gonso. You hardly see a trace of the wings, they beat so fast. The hum of the flight reaches about a lower b, so the wingbeat frequency is assumed to be around 250 Hz. A muscle contracting 250 times a second? When my hand trembles, the frequency reaches maybe 8 or 10 Hz, faster would result in a cramp. The wing moves hummingbird fashion forth and backward horizontally, the stiff leading edge always up front: lift is created in the forward- and the backward stroke. See picture of the wings.

There must be a flight stabilisator: its the long hind legs stretched out sideways that serve as balancers. Notice also that the eyes look both forward, allowing overlapping pictures, a precondition for stereo view. These eyes produce a hundred pictures a second (man has a frequency of 20- 24/sec), allowing the animal to apply corrections and hover precisely.

Of course Ellington knows what he is talking about. He and his many predecessors found for instance that for small insects the air is viscous like water is for man. Consequently, Psychodid flies have adopted a paddling technique for flight (see picture) !

The picture was treated in PS: patches, stamps, crop, contrast, sharpen, resize.

boreocypriensis, anel, cicindela, Argus has marked this note useful
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To Argus: Thanks, Ivanmeyerd 1 05-21 13:36
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi my dear friend Dietrich,
Perfect and razor sharp image with usefull notes from your excellent photographic and scientific accumulative experience. Many thanks for sharing this significant shot my friend.


  • Great 
  • mariki Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 838 W: 60 N: 2307] (9477)
  • [2008-05-16 10:58]

Hello Dietrich,

Excellent picture of this bombylius. Good POV, DOF and sharpness. That is quite strange not to see one of its wing, just the shadow. It would have been perhaps better to use a shorter time exposure. Very nice light and colours.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2008-05-16 11:25]

Lieber Dieter,
Selten habe ich den Bombylius major so klar dargestellt gesehen. Jedes kleinste Härchen sieht man auf Deinem Bild. Schön wie er mit der Veronica beschäftigt ist:-). Sehr interessanter Begleittext. Du gibst Dir wirklich sehr Mühe.
Einen schönen Abend
und liäbi Grüess

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2008-05-17 3:54]

Hi Dietrich,i know the dimensions of the little flowers and i must give you my best compliments for this great great macro,the quality of sharpenss is impressive,not easy to take whit this insects that are always moving!!Thansk for the note too,have a nice day,Luciano

Hi Dietrich ,
Great macro with excellent details and good light.
sharpness is excellent too.
well done


Hi Dietrich!
I'm just marking - I'll be back :)

Me encantan estas especies Dietrich. Has conseguido una buena ampliación y unos colores muy fieles a la realidad. Destacaría el ojo, captado con precisión y sobre todo ese aguijón tan espectacular y largo como el cuerpo del insecto !! Un buen documento.
Un abrazo: Josep Ignasi.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-05-21 12:27]
  • [+]

Hello Dietrich,
Both the main and the WS macros of Bombylius major are top class and in my view deserve more attention.
Not only have you used the best camera settings to achieve excellent sharpness and exposure with fill in flash, but your timing to capture the precision hovering is precise to say the least.
I am so taken by these two shots of a species that I have been trying to capture with my all purpose equipment without a satisfactory result, that I have put them into my favorites and I thank you for that!
Best wishes, Ivan

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