OK, since the mystery bird quiz was too easy, here's a bigger challenge. Who can name this wasp-like insect that I found on the canvas-covered wedging table in the pottery studio at Wildacres Retreat, in western North Carolina, last month?
Edit, July 8:
Did I fool anyone? This isn't a wasp, a yellow jacket or a hornet. This is Milesia virginiensis, which goes by 2 common names, Virginia Flower Fly or Yellow Jacket Hover-fly.
This critter won't sting you - it is a nectar-feeding insect that mimics the yellow jacket. It is a beneficial pollinator throughout eastern North America.
The Virginia Flower Fly is also called the "good news bee." Appalachian folklore holds that if one hovers around your head buzzing you, it is giving you the news. Having one perch on your finger is supposed to be good luck.
One more bit of trivia: Milesia virginiensis' image was used on the 33 cent US postage stamp in 1999.