Subject: Tiger Bee?
Location: Hialeah Florida
October 1, 2016 8:20 pm
Oct. 1 I noted a bee that behaved differently from the usual honey bees I see. It spent a lot of time nectaring on a single lantana blossom, then flew only a few inches to the nearest blossom, and stayed on that one quite a while, too.
When I looked through the zoom lens I saw that it was definitely not a honey bee- with much larger eyes, a white ‘nose’, and no ‘hair’ on the back, which was striped instead of solid color, and it did not seem to be picking up pollen.
Is it perhaps some kind of leafcutter bee? It was very pretty and made me think of a tiger’s coloration.
Signature: Curious in Florida
Dear Curious in Florida,
This is not a Bee, but rather a Flower Fly or Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae, a group that contains many members that mimic stinging bees and wasps for protection. We believe your individual is in the genus Palpada and according to BugGuide: “Closely related to Eristalis but usually more colorful on the thorax and/or abdomen.” While several species in the genus are found in Florida and look similar, we believe the closest visual match on BugGuide is Palpada vinetorum, and according to BugGuide: “A robust syrphid, (typical of genus Palpada), yellowish-brown with gray bands on thorax. Legs reddish or yellowish, femora darker. Hind tibiae thick, arc-shaped. Wings slightly darkened.”
Thank you for satisfying my curiosity!
After I sent the ID request I wondered if perhaps it was a fly pretending to be a bee (I now have a mental image of flies dressing up as bees for Halloween and going around with tiny sacks to collect nectar). It sure looks like the Palpada vinetorum in the BugGuide pics. You are amazing. :^)