Subject: Bumble Bee Assult
Location: Central Michigan
November 27, 2013 6:51 pm
Greetings, I took this picture back in 2005 when out of a mid morning walk through a semi wooded in Michigan. Eastern side of the northern L.P. (Yale if ya can find it on a map). I recently came across the image again and I’m baffled by what is attacking(?) that poor bee. Doesn’t look like a mosquito, but does appear to attacking like one. Wish a had a shot from the other side, but they both took off when I tried moving around them. Wondering if you can help identify the attacker, and clarify if this is an aggressive attack leading to the bees death or just a blood meal feeding like mosquitos do? Thanks
We believe, but we are not certain, that your bee is a Golden Northern Bumble Bee, Bombus fervidus, and you can compare your image to photos posted to BugGuide. We are guessing the fly is a Tachinid Fly, and according to BugGuide: “Larval stages are parasitoids of other arthropods; hosts include members of 11 insect orders, centipedes, spiders, and scorpions. Some tachinids are very host-specific, others parasitize a wide variety of hosts. The most common hosts are caterpillars. Most tachinids deposit their eggs directly on the body of their host, and it is not uncommon to see caterpillars with several tachinid eggs on them. Upon hatching the larva usually burrows into its host and feeds internally. Full-grown larva leaves the host and pupates nearby. Some tachinids lay their eggs on foliage; the larvae are flattened and are called planidia; they remain on the foliage until they find a suitable host.“ We will check with Eric Eaton to get his opinion on this photo.
Eric Eaton provides some input
Looks like a male bumble bee of some kind, with a syrphid riding on it (Allograpta, Toxomerus, or something else, awkward angle at which to make an identification of either insect).
Thanks for the quick reply, and information. Has a tough shot, had the camera about a foot over my head trying to see the screen at a pretty shallow angle. But it’s had me wondering back then and now. I presume it leads to the death of the bumble bee over time. Seems internal feeding wouldn’t bode well for the host =(
Hope ya had a good Thanksgiving
Hi again Glenn,
Eric Eaton believes the fly to be a Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae. If that is the case, it most likely just alighted on the Bumble Bee and there was no predation involved.