Sunday, April 7, 2013

It's a Bee! It's a...Fly? It's both those things!

While flies aren't really my cup of tea, I'm thankful for any insects I find after a long winter like this year's. So while this isn't so satisfying during midsummer...

Epalpus signifer, "a sure sign of Spring," according to a friend.

...when we're on the cusp of Spring, I'll take it. 

Another early season fly I've come across is a species of fly in the family Bombyliidae, better known as the bee flies. It's a fuzzy yellow species that looks like a bee wearing a fur coat at first glance. A glance is all you'll get, because the little bugger is fast.

My best photo from last year. Getting some nectar or pollen from a flower.

Today, however, it wasn't fast enough to escape my net. On the third try, at least. There were many hovering near the ground in a field at the Beiser Field Station, so I snagged one and took it home.

At last--an identifiable picture: the Greater Bee Fly, Bombylius major.

After cooling it down in the fridge, it held still long enough for me to snap some decent photos and I sent it off to BugGuide. I had an identification in less than five minutes, which was super! The Greater Bee Fly is a parasitoid of the larvae of solitary bees and can be seen during early Spring.

The bee flies are an interesting group for sure and are a cool reminder about the diversity of flies. They're more than just fruit flies and house flies! I have one more bee fly I want to find in the coming months, a species that can be found throughout Ohio: the Tiger Bee Fly. It has the coolest scientific name: Xenox tigrinus.


  1. I live in Reynoldsburg, OH, which is a suburb of Columbus. I was driving myself crazy trying to identify this thing that was in my backyard, last summer and this. I finally discovered it is a Tiger Bee Fly. How cool.

  2. Hi there, I spent like 15 minutes googling for this fly "Tiger Bee Fly" or xenox tigrinus. I found this fly on the bottom of a matrass support that was lined with some kind of fuzzy fabric. It was dead still hanging on the fabric with wings spread and much bigger than a bee. I put it in a plastic bag and now I found it. I have seen all kinds of bugs in my yard but this is a first in over 22 years in NH. Sadly, bees are really rare probably due to all the pesticides spraying in USA.

  3. I live in New Jersey and found one in my balcony before sun down yesterday. Went to check this morning and it was still there. It actually let me take pictures of it. On my lunch break at work I see another tiger bee fly which is kind of odd since this has been the first for me and now a second.

  4. I live in Toledo, OH and one flew into my office at work! Aren't they supposed to be dormant right now!? The temp is a chilling 45 degrees for crying out loud! And when I saw it... I did just that! About a good 3/4" in length and looked light a fat bumble bee.

    I think it was a "bee fly." It had a body resembling a horse fly, kind of...