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Posts Tagged ‘bee fly’

Is it a bee? Is it a fly? It is a Greater Bee Fly (Bombylius major), a parasitic bee mimic that is one of the earliest spring pollinators of wildflowers. I photographed this bee fly as it was feeding on the nectar of a Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica) on Monday at Prince William Forest Park.

I was quite happy to be able to capture so many of the details of this curious creature, including its long proboscis, spindly legs, patterned wings, and fuzzy body. In case you are curious, the body of one of these bee flies is about six-tenths of an inch (15mm) in length and its wing span is about one inch (25mm). I recommend that you double-click on the image to get a better looks at the little details of this bee fly.

If you would like to learn more about these fascinating little bee flies, including their parasitic behavior, check out the article on the US Forest Service website by Beatriz Moisset entitled “A Pollinator with a Bad Reputation.”

Greater Bee Fly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Is it a bee? Is it a fly? It’s a Blotch-winged Bee Fly (Bombylius pulchellus). What?

I spotted this bee fly Monday afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia and I have to say that it is one of the strangest insects that I have ever seen—it looks like Doctor Frankenstein pieced together an insect from the parts of other insects.

Its fuzzy body looks a bit like that of a bee and it has a similar proboscis, though the bee fly’s proboscis is outrageously long and looks a lot like it could be a stinger. Its long, spindly legs, however, are not bee-like and remind me of certain types of flies. The patterned wings and the way that it hovers are reminiscent of a hummingbird moth, though the bee fly is considerably smaller.

The helpful folks on bugguide.net were able to identify this insect for me and you can see shots by others of this type of bee fly at this link. I can’t find much information about this particular species, but the Bombyliidae apparently is a whole family of flies that feed on nectar and pollen.

Blotch-winged Bee Fly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Is it a bee? Is it a fly? It’s a Greater Bee Fly (Bombylius major). What?

This bee fly has to be one of the strangest insects that I have ever seen—it looks like Doctor Frankenstein pieced together an insect from the parts of other insects. Its fuzzy body looks like that of a bee and it has a similar proboscis, though the bee fly’s proboscis seems to be outrageously long. Its long, spindly legs, however, are not bee-like and remind me of certain types of flies. The patterned wings and the way that it hovers are reminiscent of a hummingbird moth, though the bee fly is considerably smaller.

The bee fly is considered to be a bee mimic. Like a bee, it helps pollinate plants when gathering nectar.

I encountered this strange insect when I was examining the little flowers of some allium plants in the garden of my neighbor and fellow photographer and blogger Cindy Dyer. She always has interesting flowers to photograph and I have found an amazing assortment of insects in the garden too.

Greater Bee Fly on allium plant

Greater Bee Fly on allium plant

 

Head-on look at a bee fly

Head-on look at a bee fly

Bee Fly on allium with trellis in background

Bee Fly on allium with trellis in background

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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