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Family Bombyliidae - Bee Flies

Tiger Bee Fly [Xenox tigrinus] - Xenox tigrinus Elegant Fly on Leaf - Lepidanthrax Bee fly - Lordotus - male Chrysanthrax edititius? - Chrysanthrax edititius Bee Fly - Lordotus Bee fly ID - Poecilanthrax Exoprosopa (undescribed) - Exoprosopa Bombylidae
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon (Orthorrhapha)
Superfamily Asiloidea
Family Bombyliidae (Bee Flies)
Explanation of Names
Bombyliidae Latreille 1802
ca. 800 spp. in ~70 genera of 13 subfamilies in our area(1), >5,000 spp. in >230 genera of 15 subfamilies worldwide(2)(Yeates & Lambkin 2004)
Overview of our fauna (* –taxa not yet in the guide; classification adapted from(2))
Subfamily USIINAE Apolysis
Tribe Gerontini Geron (subgenera Empidigeron · Geron)
body 4-40 mm
Hairy, often brightly colored flies. Legs usually slender, Wings often have dark markings, held outstretched at rest. Face not hollowed out. Eyes almost touching above, especially in males. Proboscis either short with broad tip, or long and used to take nectar. Hover and dart, rather like syrphid flies. Females sometimes seen hovering over sandy areas, dipping abdomen to oviposit.
Key to e. Canada spp.(3)
Key to e. US spp. here; checklist
Review of world fauna(4)
cosmopolitan; most diverse in semi-arid and arid environments (Yeates & Lambkin 2004)
females hover over their host's nest, often in dry areas(5)
larvae are mostly external parasitoids of holometabolous, esp. soil-inhabiting, larvae (Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera), slowly consuming the host completely without making a visible wound; a few are endoparasites, predators (esp. on grasshopper eggs), or kleptoparasites; adults take nectar/pollen(5)(6)(1)
Life Cycle
larvae undergo hypermetamorphosis: 1st instar larva is active and penetrates the host's nest, then turns into a sedentary parasitoid; pupa is equipped with spines/spikes to drill out of the nest(5) Immature stages
the oldest fossils date ~140 mya(6)
See Also
Syrphidae are not as hairy and never have a long proboscis
Print References
Yeates D.K., Greathead D. (1997) The evolutionary pattern of host use in the Bombyliidae (Diptera): a diverse family of parasitoid flies. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 60: 149–185 (Abstract)
Internet References
Family overview (Yeates & Lambkin 2004)