Cute fly


To suggest that a fly is cute certainly has to be a matter of taste. However, the Bombylius major does look like a child’s cuddly toy. Not only that, it is an effective pollinator as it goes around from flower to flower sipping nectar. Indeed, this little fly is one of the first pollinators of springtime.

However, this tiny bee fly has a dark side: Its offspring are parasites of solitary-bee larvae. For a short time before a solitary bee seals the entrance to the nest containing its eggs, the Bombylius major flips its own eggs in there. When the bombylius larvae emerge, they first feed on provisions meant for the bee larvae and then they eat the bee larvae themselves. Bombylius has only a short time in the spring to give its offspring this opportunity.

A Bombylius major sips nectar from a Pieris japonica. Its long legs and proboscis enable it to stay well back from the flower, probably as a way to avoid the attack of a crab spider.


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2 Responses to Cute fly

  1. Karen Pidcock says:

    It looks mighty formidable enlarged so! Will try to notice & recognize in its true size, thanks.

    • Alistair says:

      Karen, the actual fly is about 16 mm in length, so it will appear somewhat enlarged on a computer screen, but it probably will be close to one-to-one on a phone. On the other hand, eagles and bears are always reduced on these displays.

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