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Black-Tailed Bee Fly (Bombylius major)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Black-Tailed Bee Fly.

 Updated: 2/8/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The Black-Tailed Bee Fly is disguised as a fuzzy stinging bee, giving it time for tranquil visits to flowers and drink the nectar.



The Black-Tailed Bee Fly is a hairy, hovering, and buzzing mimic of a bumble bee. The yellow body and legs are colors that typically warn off predators that do not want to deal with a stinger. This is a fly, though, so it does not have a stinger. The long proboscis ('tongue') quickly gives away its true identity. Bee Flies also have long, thin legs that lack pollen baskets. They also lack fuzzy legs typically found on the hind legs of honeybees and bumble bees.

Adults drink flower nectar and are fond of lilac and plum flowers. Larvae have a more nefarious diet. Female Black-Tailed Bee Fly lays her fertilized eggs in the ground nests of certain solitary bee species. The Black-Tailed Bee Fly larvae hatch and eat the larvae of the resident bees, making them parasites. Once they eat the competition, they go on to eat any food stores left by their mother. They will then pupate in that nest and eventually emerge as adults in the summer.

This species is most active in the summer on sunny days. They can be found in open fields, backyards and parks, either resting on plants or buzzing over blossoms. They are able to hover over the flowers they drink from, much like a hummingbird. Males will often hover over flowers while waiting for a female to pass by. Males then dart after the female in the hope of mating with her. While observers can get close, the Black-Tailed Bee Fly is quite aware of its surroundings and can bolt away so quickly, they are difficult to catch.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Bombylidae
          Genus: Bombylius
            Species: major
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Bombylius major
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 12mm to 16mm (0.47in to 0.62in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow, black, white, brown
Descriptors: fuzzy, bumble, hairy, flying, tongue, legs, hover
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.