Monday, August 20, 2007

Buzzing Bombyliid

Bee fly, at rest in the sun

These large, showy flies are common here, buzzing conspicuously around the yard. They are called bee flies, family Bombyliidae, because they sound like bees. Some species look like bees too, but this one doesn't (at least, not to me). Their larvae are parasitic on the larvae of other insects. Caterpillars, grubs, hymenopteran larvae in their nests, and grasshopper eggs are common hosts. I've read that after the bombyliid flies lay eggs on a wasp's nest, each fly hatchling crawls into a brood cell and waits until the wasp larva has completely consumed the paralyzed prey its own mother has provided. The maggot then consumes the fully-fattened wasp larva.

The adults feed harmlessly on nectar and pollen.


Dave said...

Parasites on parasites - gotta love it! Allahu akbar.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Big bugs have little bugs
Upon their backs to bite 'em.
And little bugs have littler bugs
And so, ad infinitum.

Cathy said...

Thanks for this! I photographed one here in Toledo and was clueless as to its identity.