Bee like Fly
Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 7:23 PM
Every day I walk by a hedge coming out of my front door and always notice bees flying around collecting pollen and nectar, you know, their daily chores. Every now and then I notice a strange pollen or nectar collector as in the picture of the one I have sent you. It appears more like a fly but behaves like a bee. He has very short antennae and an odd mandible looking mouth just under the eyes. I have also attached a second pic showing a honey bee to provide a scale of his size. I live in southern California out near the Ventura coast and it has been quite a warm winter this year and even now, the flowers are blooming everywhere and the bees are a buzzin. I know there are several species of flies that behave like bees and this must be one of them.
We believe your fly is a Drone Fly, Eristalis tenax, one of the flower loving flies in the family Syrphidae. Sadly, the angle of your photograph adds a bit of uncertainty to the identification. Drone Flies are excellent Honey Bee mimics. Drone Flies are perfectly harmless and do not sting nor bite.
Correction: From Eric Eaton
The “drone fly” from southern California is indeed a syrphid, but in the genus Copestylum. Without the specimen I can’t give a species.
Fri, Feb 6, 2009 at 6:16 PM
I wanted to thank you for your prompt help with the information on my ‘Bee-wilderment’. I was able to go onto the BugGuide site and from their pictures I was able to determine that my fly is of the Species Copestylum avidum. I have attached another picture that might confirm this but it is slightly out of focus.