Bombylius major


Early most springs, I post pictures of Bombylius major, for it is only at this time that one sees this interesting fly in one’s garden.

Abruptly, spring has arrived, and so has bombylius

Although Bombylius major is a fly, it has the appearance of a bumble bee — a mimicry crafted to avoid being eaten by birds.

The reason bombylius only appears in the spring is that this is the time solitary bees temporarily leave their nests unprotected. Unlike the social bees, each solitary bee lays her own eggs and does so in a small tunnel she has provisioned with food such as nectar and pollen. She then seals the entrance.

However, for the short time it takes for a solitary bee to do this, the tunnel entrance is open and that is when the Bombylius fly enters and deposits its own eggs inside. When a bombylius larva emerges, it feeds on the provisions meant for the bee larvae. It then changes form and eats the bee larvae, themselves. Bombylius has only a short time in the spring to give its offspring this opportunity.

You have to do what you have to do.

The Bombylius fly looks like some fuzzy toy designed by a manufacturer of children’s toys. Its proboscis is long, and its wings are half black and half transparent.

When Bombylius major collects nectar, its long proboscis and its long legs allow it to avoid getting close to a flower — something that might contain a crab spider.


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3 Responses to Bombylius major

  1. Irene McIlwaine. says:

    How interesting . Does the fact that it does not get too close mean that it does not pollinate?
    Thank you again

  2. Peter Mackie says:


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