bee or fly
March 8, 2010
I am writing to you from an American military base in Kuwait. I am in pest management and would like to calm the fears of my fellow military members. Recently we have had a large number of flying insects that appear to be bees but i believe they are flies. They have been hanging out on shaded walls to stay out of the heat. They do not behave like bees they only look similar to bees. They range in size from 1/4″ to 1/2″.
Leslie B

Flower Fly

Hi Leslie,
We mean no disrespect in writing this, but we believe that there are far greater threats to our brave military men and women in Kuwait than either bees or flies, and we hope that there is a strong support system for calming their fears regarding bombs, missiles and bullets.  This is a fly, and we believe it is a harmless Hover Fly or Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae, a group that has numerous members that mimic stinging insects.  For the record, in the scheme of things worldwide, Flies would generally be a cause of greater concern than bees whose stings are temporarily painful, but cause no lasting harm except in the case of severe allergies.  On the other hand, Flies, which include Mosquitoes, often bite and they can be serious disease vectors, especially in warmer climates.   Malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and sleeping sickness are all spread by the bites of mosquitoes and flies, and diseases like typhoid fever, anthrax, leprosy, cholera, conjunctivitis, tuberculosis, dysentery and diarrhea can be spread through contact with the Common House Fly.  Your Flower Fly, we are pleased to report, is benign and no cause for alarm

Thank you so much for your quick response and your honest words.  Thankfully not many bombs, missiles, or bullets flying in Kuwait but yes we have support and preparation to face the human threat if it presents itself.  It is odd but true that some fear the insects so fiercely.
After spending some time researching on your website I was able to form an educated guess that it was from the Syrphidae family, and indeed mimicking a bee.  I appreciate your email confirming my suspicions.
I appreciate you stressing the medical importance of the fly as I have spent the majority of my time over the last 3 months battling the common fly and hope the upcoming 100 degree plus weather will greatly assist me in the matter of controlling the pest.  I may be the only one on base praying for higher temperatures.
Thank you again for your assistance and no disrespect was taken.

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