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Manitoba Museum

Flies (Diptera)

Bee Flies


Bee Flies are so named because they make a high pitched buzzing sound when they fly. Adult Bee Flies are particularly fond of plants in the Aster family. Bee Flies beat their wings so fast that they can hover in the air like a hummingbird. Bee Fly larvae parasitize the eggs of other insects, typically bees, wasps or grasshoppers, slowly eating their hosts alive!

Representative Genera and Species:

Anastoechus, Bombylius, Poecilanthrax, Villa

Pollinator Life Cycle:

Adult female Bee Flies lay eggs in dry, loose soil where the larvae of host animals occur. After a Bee Fly egg hatches, the larva searches for a suitable host. Upon finding a host, the Bee Fly larva attaches its mouthparts to it and slowly consumes it. The larva then enters the pupal stage where it transforms into an adult.

Rarity Status:

No Bee Flies are legally protected in Canada. The status of Canadian species has not yet been assessed.

Physical Appearance:

Bee Flies have two membrane-like wings that often have interesting patterns on them. Bee Flies spread their wings out when they rest. Their bodies are typically covered with fine gray, yellow, brown and/or black hairs. Their legs are long and dangle when they fly. The mouthparts (proboscis) of bee flies are quite long, enabling them to probe deep flowers for nectar. Their antennae are short and pointed.

Pollinator Habitat:

Found in dry, loose, often sandy soils in grasslands and clearings.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland/Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Prairie Types:

  • Fescue Prairie
  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie
Bee Flies