Request: Bumble Bee Mimics
July 16, 2010
Location: North Middle Tennessee
Here are a couple of bee mimics the first two I believe is a ”Robber Fly” I was going to include a bumblebee for comparison, but it just didn’t look right. After doing a bit of searching online I now belive it to be a ”Syrphid Fly” I now wonder just how many of the things buzzing around the yard are actually ”Bumblebees” (Will just let the critters figure it out for themselves) Thank You and have a wonderful day.
Your photo of the Bee-Like Robber Fly in the genus Laphria is excellent for the genus identification. It shows the thicker antennae of the genus Laprhia which differ from the antennae that are thin and threadlike at the final segment in the genus Mallophora. We believe this may be Laphria thoracica, based on the photos and the range indicated on BugGuide. I agree that the second fly is a Syrphid Fly in the family Syrphidae. I got a bit dizzy going through all the possibilities on BugGuide, but I believe your specimen is probably in the subfamily Eristalinae based on images posted to BugGuide. Characteristics of your specimen like the coloration, smooth black abdomen, and fuzzy yellow thorax are quite distinctive and should make identification relatively easy, but we remain without luck in that arena.
3 thoughts on “Two Flies Mimic Bumble Bees: Bee-Like Robber Fly and Still Unknown Flower Fly”
I saw one of these on my rose bush today, sitting on top of an actual bumble-bee, or possibly a carpenter bee – I didn’t get a good enough look at the victim’s back, because it was covered by this fly. It looked at first glance like two bees mating, like beetles do, but I have never seen bees do that and I’m pretty sure that’s not how they do it! Well, not right out in public, anyway. 🙂 So I looked closer and I could swear I saw the fly’s proboscis rammed right into the bee’s thorax – kind of like the way an assassin bug kills and slurps its prey. I figured out by the wings that the bug on top was not a bee at all, but a fly. I said to him “YOU’RE not a bee!” and I touched his wings – and he flew off like a shot and dropped the bee carcass, which I could not then find in the undergrowth to figure out whether it was a bumble or carpenter bee. Do these things actually kill bees?
Large Robber Flies frequently prey upon bees and wasps. Though it is not one of the bee mimic Robber Flies, we have an amazing image of a Saropogon combustus feeding on a Bumble Bee in our archives.
Volucella pellucens maybe.