Subject: a bee or a beetle!?
Location: County Down, Northern Ireland
May 15, 2014 5:30 am
Hey bugman! Me and my mum were just digging through some soil in our garden and found this weird looking insect! It’s body is all fuzzy and the colour of a bees but the head area is a yellow coloured shell? And it’s wings are very tiny and at the side of it! Also it’s eyes are like something you’d see in a cartoon of a house fly (really big and buggy). You can also clearly see wee pinchers for it’s mouth! I’ve never seen a bee or anything like this and it’s also weird that it was found in soil.
Signature: Many thanks, Rosalyn
This is neither a bee nor a beetle, but you were on the right track when you noticed its eyes resembling those of a house fly. This is a Fly in the order Diptera, and the fact that you found it underground indicates an underground pupation. The wings have still not expanded after it emerged from the pupal stage. The color and furry body are quite distinctive, and our first clue was images of a Narcissus Hoverfly, Merodon equestris, on UK Safari, however, the images there show very different eyes. The site indicates: “look like small bumblebees” and “The ‘Narcissus’ name is given because they lay their eggs on Narcissus plants (daffodils). When the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow down into the plants to feed on the fleshy bulbs.” Everything seemed to fit but the shape of the eyes. The eyes on your individual meet at the front of the head, so we continued searching. On Bugs and Weeds, we learned that the Large Narcissus Fly: ” only survives for a short while – between 5 and 24 days, and lays its eggs low down on the leaves of daffodil, narcissus and bluebell plants. On hatching the larvae make their way down into the bulb where they will feed for something like 300 days before re-emerging to pupate in the soil.” We began to ponder the possibility that like Horse Flies, the Narcissus Hoverfly might exhibit sexual dimorphism, with the spacing between the eyes helping to distinguish the sexes. That proved to be correct when we finally located an image of a male Narcissus Hoverfly on RI Bugs where it is called a Narcissus Bulb Fly. Once we realized that the Narcissus Bulb Fly was also found in North America, we searched BugGuide and located another matching image of a male that matches your individual, except for the wings, which we have already indicated have not expanded to their full size in your image. We are speculating that you have daffodils planted near the site of the sighting.