family of flies

The Bombyliidae are a family of flies. Their common name is bee flies.

Bombylius major
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Superfamily: Asiloidea
Family: Bombyliidae
Latreille, 1802


The Bombyliidae are a large family of flies. It has hundreds of genera, but the life cycles of most species are known poorly, or not at all. Some are very small (2 mm in length), but some can be very large for flies (wingspan of some 40 mm).[1][2]

Adults normally feed on nectar and pollen. Those with a spectacularly long proboscis 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 least understood families of insects. There at least 4,500 described species, and certainly thousands still to be described. The adult flies usually feed on nectar and pollen, and some are important pollinators.

Bee mimics change

Many Bombyliidae look like bees and so a common name for the family is the bee flies.[2] The reason is probably aposematic: the adults are safer from predators because they share the warning colours of bees. The adult females usually lay eggs near the nests of possible hosts, often in the burrows of solitary bees, wasps or beetles.

Larvae change

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

  1. Weaving, Alan; Picker, Mike & Griffiths, Charles Llewellyn (2003). Field guide to insects of South Africa. New Holland. ISBN 1-86872-713-0.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  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]