Is it a bee? Is it a fly? It’s a Blotch-winged Bee Fly (Bombylius pulchellus). What?
I spotted this bee fly Monday afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia and I have to say that it is one of the strangest insects that I have ever seen—it looks like Doctor Frankenstein pieced together an insect from the parts of other insects.
Its fuzzy body looks a bit like that of a bee and it has a similar proboscis, though the bee fly’s proboscis is outrageously long and looks a lot like it could be a stinger. Its long, spindly legs, however, are not bee-like and remind me of certain types of flies. The patterned wings and the way that it hovers are reminiscent of a hummingbird moth, though the bee fly is considerably smaller.
The helpful folks on bugguide.net were able to identify this insect for me and you can see shots by others of this type of bee fly at this link. I can’t find much information about this particular species, but the Bombyliidae apparently is a whole family of flies that feed on nectar and pollen.
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.