Friday, April 30, 2010

Bug of the day: Bombylius bee fly, 29 April

Some might think today's bug might be a blood-sucker, what with that long, pointy proboscis. However, this wee beast, Bombylius major, is a nectar feeder, with particular predilection for lilac and plum blossoms. The adults are superb hoverers, often low over the ground. I took this picture in just such a situation at Heislerville WMA on 29 April.

The genus Bombylius is one of the genera in the family of "bee flies" - Bombylidae - and which is about 35 species strong in North America north of Mexico. Bombylius major is about the most widespread and most abundant of the genus and, like most members of the genus, is parasitic on solitary ground-nesting bees. To effect this, the female drops her eggs at or near the entrance to the bee's nest. The resultant larva finds its way into the bee nest and munches the bee grubs.

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