Posts Tagged: bee fly
Have you ever seen a bee fly, a member of the family Bombylidae?
It's about the size of some bees. It buzzes like a bee. But you can quickly tell it's not a bee by its behavior. It's a fast-moving, long-legged, fuzzylike critter that darts in and around flowers, grabbing nectar on the go, before buzzing off again.
It's curious little insect. Its long tongue (proboscis) is so long you're inclined to say "What? Is that for real?"
Like a fly, it has two wings (unlike bees, which have four).
We spotted this one pollinating the flowers behind the Lab Sciences Building at the University of California, Davis. The adults feed on nectar and pollen.
In their larval stage, bee flies parasitize the eggs and larvae of ground-nesting bees, beetles and wasps.
Says Wikipedia: "Although insect parasitoids usually are fairly host-specific, often highly host-specific, some Bombyliidae are opportunistic and will attack a variety of hosts."
Biologist Beatriz Moisset, in writing a "Pollinator of the Month" piece for the U.S. Forest Service in celebration of wildflowers, called it "A Pollinator with a Bad Reputation." She also blogs about Pollinators.
Bee fly, a bombyliid, hovers like a helicopter. Note the long tongue. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey) 2800 copy
Bee fly foraging for nectar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
There are "bees" and there are "flies."
And then there are "bee flies."
Bee flies? They're so named because they look somewhat like bees. Order: Diptera. Family: Bombyliidae.
We spotted a single bee fly, as identified by UC Davis forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, foraging on our sedum yesterday. Like a bee, it's a pollinator; the adult bee fly feeds on nectar and pollen. Entomologists estimate there are some 4500 described species of bee flies throughout the world, varying in size from 4 to 40mm.
In the larval stages, they are parasitoids; the adult bee fly lays her eggs in the nests of wasps, beetles or solitary bees. Then the larvae ungraciously thank their hosts by eating them.
This large bee fly (below) apparently found the nectar to its liking. It lumbered from flower to flower sipping nectar.
The honey bees, hover flies and leafcutter bees all scrambled to avoid a collision.
Sip of Nectar