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Bombyliidae - Bee-flies

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BRACHYCERA, Asilomorpha, Asiloidea

Number of British species: 9

Size: S-L

Difficulty: 1

Scheme: Covered by the Larger-Brachycera recording scheme


Small to large (3-14 mm) flies, often thorax and abdomen covered with fine hairs or in part scale-like hairs. Body usually broad, bee-like but sometimes slender; colour brown, grey, black or with a conspicuous pattern of contrasting colours; in some cases the body is devoid of hair covering and shining. Eyes large, male often holoptic; antenna with 3-4 segments, the third segment largest and the fourth making up the flagellum, there may also be a very small transparent style. Mouthparts without (Thyridanthrax, Villa) or with (Bombylius, Pthiria) a long, sucking proboscis. Wing occasionally clear but most often with a conspicuous pattern; veins R2+3 and R4 often strongly curving forward; cell below discal cell (cell cua1 open; cell cup usually open; wings held horizontally when at rest. Legs long and slender; tibiae with apical bristles or (rarely on mid leg) spurs; empodium bristle-like or absent.


The larvae are parasitoids or predators of eggs, larvae and pupae of other insects. Bombylius parasitise bees in which case the female deposits her eggs in or near the nest of the bees. The first instar enters the nest and feeds on the contents of the cells, including the bee larvae. Thyridanthrax parasitise solitary wasps and Pthiria and Villa probably Lepidopterous larvae and pupae. Adults usually feed on nectar and the females on pollen. Bombyliidae are generally good fliers and many are able to hover at the same spot in front of a flower in order to feed while hovering. Species not possessing a long proboscis often settle on the flowers themselves. The adults are mainly active on warm, sunny days and prefer open, dry habitats.


families/brachycera/old_brachycera/bombyliidae.txt · Last modified: 2008/05/24 17:01 (external edit)     Back to top
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