Currently viewing the category: "Bee Flies"

Subject:  Large Fly of some sort
Geographic location of the bug:  London, Ontario Canada
Date: 07/25/2018
Time: 06:55 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This thing has been visiting my workplace over the last few days. It’s fairly large and has basically no fear of humans. I’m guessing it could take a chunk out of me if it chose to but thankfully it hasn’t come to that. What exactly is it?
How you want your letter signed:  Mike Woodford

Tiger Bee Fly

Dear Mike,
You have nothing to fear from this Tiger Bee Fly.  According to BugGuide:  “Adult food unknown. An adult has been observed on damp mud, lapping up fluids.”

Subject:  unidentified flying pollinator
Geographic location of the bug:  Hillsborough, NJ, USA
Date: 04/23/2018
Time: 09:16 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Greetings:
I saw something pollinating some Spring Beauties on April 21. I assumed at the time that I was getting photos of some sort of bee, but when I got a closer look at the pictures when I got home I got more of a fly (or mosquito?) vibe from it. Can you give me an idea of what this is?
How you want your letter signed:  John

Greater Bee Fly

Dear John,
You are correct that this is not a Bee.  It is a Greater Bee Fly,
Bombylius major.  According to BugGuide:  “A common and widespread bee fly, often seen taking nectar on early spring wildflowers or seen hovering in sunny patches in woodlands” and “adults fly from March to May (most common in April).”

Greater Bee Fly

Thanks – that sure looks like the little fella I saw last weekend. We’ve had a colder-than-average spring so flowers are just kicking into gear and I’m not seeing many pollinators yet. This guy turned out to be a little more interesting than I expected.


Subject:  Flies
Geographic location of the bug:  Cootamundra, NSW. Australia
Date: 02/20/2018
Time: 12:55 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Wanting to know what sort of fly this is? Thank you.
How you want your letter signed:  Graham

Horse Fly or Bee Fly???

Dear Graham,
Our initial thought is this must be a Horse Fly (called March Flies in Australia) from the family Tabanidae, but there are no similar looking images on the Brisbane Insects site.  The white edge on the compound eye is a trait found in several Bee Flies on the Brisbane Insect site that share that trait.  We are going to request assistance from our readership with this identification.

Subject:  Short wasp? Weird bee? Sawfly? Just what is this guy?
Geographic location of the bug:  La Jolla, California
Date: 09/19/2017
Time: 06:10 PM EDT
Hello there. I was wondering if you could identify this insect? I am terribly afraid of bees and wasps, so when I took a glance at it after stepping out of my mother’s car (about 6 meters away), I was in a hurry to get away from it. Upon closer inspection, my mother insisted it looked more like a moth than a bee (I have to disagree, but the wings do have peculiar patterns that bees, wasps, and the like usually don’t have, so I guess I could see it.)
It certainly did not fly like a butterfly- it hovered much like a bee or wasp would when it would fly, which is why I thought it was one until I saw the pictures she took.
This fellow was attracted to some yellow flowers we have right outside of our house, (the kind of flower is featured in one picture of the bug) if that means anything at all. Yet again, bees and butterflies also tend to hang out there, so I guess that’s nothing really important, although it lets you know this guy’s a pollinator.
Anyways, if you could help me identify this bug I would so much appreciate it. I’ve tried looking everywhere to find his species and have had no luck.
Thank you kindly.
How you want your letter signed:  T.H.

Bee Fly

Dear T.H.,
Mistaking this Bee Fly in the family Bombyliidae for a bee is quite understandable.  It is quite a beautiful Bee Fly and we suspect it is the same species that visited the offices of What’s That Bug? this weekend in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Los Angeles, but alas, we were unable to get an image of it before it flew away.  We have identified it as
Poecilanthrax arethusa thanks to the Natural History of Orange County site.  Unfortunately, other than providing a range, BugGuide does not have any species specific information on this gorgeous, and perfectly harmless, Bee Fly, but the genus page does credit D. Yeates with the revelation “Endoparasitoids of Noctuidae pupae.”  We followed the provided link to ResearchGate where it states:  “The recorded host range of Bombyliidae spans seven insect Orders and the Araneae; almost half of all records are from bees and wasps (Hymenoptera). No Bombyliidae have evolved structures to inject eggs directly into the host as is the case in many hymenopterous parasitoids. Bombyliid larvae usually exhibit hypermetamorphosis, and contact their host while it is in the larval stage. Bee fly larvae consume the host when it is in a quiescent stage such as the mature larva, prepupa or pupa.”  The indicated hosts, the pupae of moths in the family Noctuidae, generally pupate underground.  INaturalist has numerous Southern California sightings.

Subject:  ID help please?
Geographic location of the bug:  Chicopee, MA
Date: 09/13/2017
Time: 09:40 PM EDT
Hi there,
I have looked around the internet, as well as posted to various Facebook pages. Some guesses were made, however nothing concrete, so I’m turning to the bugman…. Oh, & this was taken 9/12/17.
How you want your letter signed:  Thank you, Kristi

Bee Fly

Dear Kristi,
We are certain this is a Bee Fly in the family Bombyliidae, but we are not certain of the genus or species.  Right now, we believe it is a member of the tribe Villini which is well represented on BugGuide, and when time permits, we will attempt a more specific identification based on your location, and this critter’s wing markings and veination.

 Anthracinae » Villini » Rhynchanthrax – ?
Thank you! You got me far enough that I believe I may have got the rest. If you find I am incorrect, please lemme know.

We don’t think so.  Though it looks similar, based on BugGuide data, that is a western genus.