Thursday, January 28, 2010

Buggin' Out on Thursdays :: Bee Flies for the Virtual Bug Collection

Bee fly drawing copyright © 1996 by Louise Kulzer

Eating larvae and sipping nectar is a way of life.

It's a bee? It's a fly? It's a bee fly!

It's also Buggin' Out on Thursdays.

When my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary a couple years ago, we stayed at the Lost Pines Resort and Spa outside of Austin, Texas. The resort has a small butterfly garden. Even though it was nearing the end of September there were still flowers in bloom and insect activity. I was mesmerized by a little fuzzy buzzy "bee" sipping the nectar of yellow wildflowers.

After checking out (a site where naturalists post and identify bug photos) I tracked down my "strange little bee" and found out it's actually related to flies and is, in fact, a true fly which mimics a honeybee so as to ward off predators.

It has a plump, fuzzy body with stripes of (sometimes) brown and yellow. The species I captured in my photos has a long proboscis with which to reach nectar. There are different types of bee flies and the Family name for them is Bombyliidae. Their name reminds me of Tom Bombadil from J.R.R. Tolkien's writings!

They have been called the Harbingers of Spring. The early "bee fly" gets the "worm", so to speak, because these insects get busy at the very beginning of Spring to lay their eggs near the eggs of beetles, bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, or on eggs of grasshoppers. The bee fly larvae hatch first, have a chance to mature a bit, and when the host egg hatches our little buddy has something good and nutritious laying within easy reach!

If you think you spot a bee fly I hope you have your camera ready because they hover and dart. They are much faster than true bees. They remind me of hummingbirds! I had trouble following this little one around with my camera because she was so speedy. I love the way her back legs trail behind her as she zips to the flowers!

If you have a bug story, blog post, or photo you'd like to share leave a comment and add to the Virtual Bug Collection!

What kind of bugs have you seen lately?


  1. Hey, I've seen those little guys. I thought they were strange little bees. Now that I know they are flies, I'll get my flyswatter ready. :o) (JK, they're cute).

  2. Haha! Yeah, I'm pretty sure the larvae are maggot-looking. Ick. But at least these guys drink nectar and aren't attracted to poo, lol.