- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Have you ever seen a bee fly, a member of the family Bombylidae?
It's about the size of some bees. It buzzes like a bee. But you can quickly tell it's not a bee by its behavior. It's a fast-moving, long-legged, fuzzylike critter that darts in and around flowers, grabbing nectar on the go, before buzzing off again.
It's curious little insect. Its long tongue (proboscis) is so long you're inclined to say "What? Is that for real?"
Like a fly, it has two wings (unlike bees, which have four).
We spotted this one pollinating the flowers behind the Lab Sciences Building at the University of California, Davis. The adults feed on nectar and pollen.
In their larval stage, bee flies parasitize the eggs and larvae of ground-nesting bees, beetles and wasps.
Says Wikipedia: "Although insect parasitoids usually are fairly host-specific, often highly host-specific, some Bombyliidae are opportunistic and will attack a variety of hosts."
Biologist Beatriz Moisset, in writing a "Pollinator of the Month" piece for the U.S. Forest Service in celebration of wildflowers, called it "A Pollinator with a Bad Reputation." She also blogs about Pollinators.