Other Common Names
Dark-edged Bee Fly, Major Bee Fly
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Bombylius major Linnaeus
Bombylius anonymus, Bombylivs septimvs, Bombylius variegatus, Bombylius aequalis, Asilus lanigerus, Bombylius sinuatus, Bombylius fratellus, Bombylius consanguineus, Bombylius vicinus, Bombylius albipectus, Bombylius major var. australis, Bombylius basilinea, Bombylius antenoreus, Bombylius notialis.
body 12-18 mm; wingspan to 25 mm
A common and widespread bee fly, often seen taking nectar on early spring wildflowers or seen hovering in sunny patches in woodlands.
Pile can be brown, yellow, or white. Wings with dark leading edge, hyaline trailing edge with sharp dividing border. This is the only Nearctic Bombylius species with this wing pattern (Hall and Evenhuis).
The color of the pile evidently does not include white, according to Neal Evenhuis:
"Those that were previously placed in B. major
that were white like this have been transferred to B. anthophilus
." [comment by Neal Evenhuis on this page
throughout most of NA (Canada and the US to Baja) and Eurasia(1)
adults fly from March to May (most common in April)
Adults take nectar from flowers of herbaceous plants.
Larvae are parasitoids
of the larvae of solitary bees such as Andrena
Females rest on bare ground and collect fine sand and dust in the long tufts of hair at the end of their abdomen, called dust baskets. After finding an entrance to ground nesting bee tunnels, she hovers above the nest and flicks her eggs through the dust baskets, covering them with dust and fine sand grains, making the eggs invisible at the entrance to the bee nests. She may also lay eggs on flowers visited by the bees, and the larvae will hitch a ride back to the bee’s nest.
Larva: Very mobile after hatching, larvae move quickly down the tunnel of ground nesting bees, find and feed on stored food in cells and later, feed on the bee larvae itself. Larvae pupate in the tunnel and hatch out the next spring.
Lectotype as Bombylius major by Linnaeus, 1758. Type Locality: Europe. Type designated by Latreille in 1810. In the Linnean Society, London, England.
Holotype as Bombylius fratellus by Wiedemann, 1828. Type Locality: Georgia. In the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna, Austria. Syntype in the United States National Museum, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.
Holotype as Bombylius vicinus by Macquart, 1840. Type Locality: Pennsylvania. In the British Museum of Natural History, London, England.
Holotype as Bombylius albipectus by Macquart, 1855. Type Locality: Maryland. In the British Museum of Natural History, London, England.
Hall, J.C., and N.L. Evenhuis. Family Bombyliidae. pp. 1-96 In Griffiths, G.C.D., Ed., Flies of the Nearctic region. Vol V, pt 13, no 1. E Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.
Systema Naturae 10th Edition, 1758 by Linnaeus, pg. 606.
Fauna Boreali-Americana, 1837, Pt. 4 by Kirby, pp. 312 to 313.
The Canadian Entomologist, 1884, Vol. 16: Diptera Taken around Montreal by Caulfield, pg. 137.
The Ottawa Naturalist, 1901, Vol. 14 by Harrington, pg. 130.
Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 1913, Vol. 6 by Shelford, pg. 222.
University of California, Riverside, 1974. Thesis: A phenology study of the Bombyliidae of Deep Canyon by Tabet and Sashar. Not Available.
Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, 2008, #6 Bee Flies by Kits, et al., pg. 9.
live adult image by G. Bradley, plus size, seasonality, food, habitat, and other info
parasitoid of Andrena species
abstract of article (Inge Bischoff, Germany, springerlink.com)