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Bombylius major
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Suborder: Brachycera
Infraorder: Asilomorpha
Superfamily: Asiloidea
Family: Bombyliidae
Latreille, 1802

The Bombyliidae are a family of flies. Their common name is bee flies. Adults generally feed on nectar and pollen, some being important pollinators. Larvae generally are parasitoids of other insects.

Description[change | change source]

The Bombyliidae are a large family of flies comprising hundreds of genera, but the life cycles of most species are known poorly, or not at all. They range in size from very small (2 mm in length) to very large for flies (wingspan of some 40 mm).[1][2]

Adults generally feed on nectar and pollen. Those with spectacularly long proboscises are adapted to plants such as Lapeirousia which have long, narrow floral tubes.

The Bombyliidae include a large number of species, but for its size this is one of the most poorly known families of insects. There are at least 4,500 described species, and certainly thousands yet to be described.

Bee mimics[change | change source]

Many Bombyliidae superficially look like bees and so a common name for the family is the bee flies.[2] Probably the resemblance is aposematic, affording the adults some protection from predators. The adult females usually deposit eggs near the nests of possible hosts, often in the burrows of solitary bees, wasps or beetles.

The larval stages are predators or parasitoids of the eggs and larvae of other insects. The eggs hatch into larvae which eat the eggs and larvae of the 'host' insect. Although most bee-flies usually are fairly or highly host-specific, some species do attack a number of hosts.

References[change | change source]

  1. Alan Weaving; Mike Picker; Griffiths, Charles Llewellyn (2003). Field guide to insects of South Africa. New Holland Publishers, Ltd. ISBN 1-86872-713-0 .
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hull, Frank Montgomery 1973. Bee flies of the world: the genera of the family Bombyliidae. Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 0874741319. [1]