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Solitary bee or bee-fly? - Copestylum avidum - female

Solitary bee or bee-fly? - Copestylum avidum - Female
Williamson County, Texas, USA
October 28, 2005
Size: ~ 12mm
I observed this bee in late afternoon on a clear day with light breeze and pleasant temperature (guessing mid-70s F.) We were resting in an area with exposed rocky ground and scattered grasses and forbs. This bee (fly?) flew low to the ground, under 20 cm, settling on the flowers of our annual aster (flowers reliably 11-13 mm across). From a distance, it looked almost like a honeybee, but through binoculars clearly wasn't. It didn't have the "front spike" of the beeflies I've seen. After nectaring on several flowers of one bush, it flew to a stem of King Ranch bluestem (non-native grass) for about half a minute, then flew on low, stopping to investigate every flower; this included other asters, _Sida physocalyx, and a small blue vervain. I'm including this dorsal view, a partial ventral view, a lateral view, and a frontal view in hopes that these markings will help identification. The white face was very prominent through binoculars, but as we lost direct sunlight it shows up in the pictures a bit grayish.

Images of this individual: tag all
Solitary bee or bee-fly? - Copestylum avidum - female Solitary bee or bee-fly? - Copestylum avidum - female Solitary bee or bee-fly? - Copestylum avidum - female

Moved from Copestylum.

Syrphid fly, genus Copestylum
As you can see in the title this is indeed a bee-mimicking fly from the family Syrphidae, hover flies.
This is a female in the genus Copestylum, but I don't know the species!
Gerard Pennards

Thanks for your help on this. How do you know it's a female?

Elizabeth Moon

Eyes of male and female
Hello Elizabeth,
In most genera of Syrphidae the males have eyes that touch on top of the head. In females the eyes are separated on top of the head, just like in your pictures. But, like I said, there are some genera in which this is not the case!
Gerard Pennards

Thanks again...
It would be too easy if all of them had that characteristic...(joke).

I can tell that more book-buying is in order...none of the books I have show any examples of Copystylum.


Here in Arizona, too.
I collected something nearly identical here in Tucson this weekend, on flowers of desert broom (Baccharis). Convincing bee mimics!

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