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Bee Flies Bombyliidae

Bee Flies are a small-to-medium sized flies that belong to the family Bombyliidae. Their name comes from the fact that many of these flies resemble bees in their appearance and behavior.  However, they do not bite or sting and are harmless to humans and their pets.  These flies are found on every continent, except for Antarctica.  They are quite diverse with over 5,000 species currently recorded.  According to the web site insectoid.info, 28 species have been recorded in Florida.

The various species in this family have body lengths that range in size from 2 mm to 25 mm.  They have two wings, large eyes, skinny long legs, short antenna, and a stiff long tongue that is used for sipping nectar from flowers.  Like bees, they can hover in midair.  They are also quite fast and can maneuver and change directions rapidly.  Most species have hairy bodies that inadvertently pick up pollen grains, which may then be transferred to other flowers.  Thus they are pollinators and may actually pollinate more flowers than bees.

However, a downside to their behavior is that they are predators or parasitoids of the eggs and larvae of other insects, such as solitary bees, beetles, butterflies and moths.  So, they are harmful to some of the insects we consider beneficial and also beneficial as parasites to some insects that we consider harmful..

The upper two images show the species Poecilanthrax lucifer feeding on nectar from a Tickseed flower.  The image on the left shows a Geron species also feeding on nectar from a Tickseed flower.