A fly and a beetle that are beastly to bees

At Parke yesterday I managed to photograph a fly and a beetle which have life styles where their larvae predate the larvae of solitary bees.

Bee fly 1This is the bee fly Bombylius major – a really attractive fly which mimics a small bumblebee – here it is feeding on the nectar inside a primrose flower

Bee fly 2 Another picture showing the long ‘nose’ which reaches deep into the flowers.

The adult bee flies are vegetarian but they lay their eggs immediately outside the burrows of solitary bees – these then hatch and crawl into the nest and feed on the bee’s larvae. See here more details.

Triungulins 1These are tiny oil beetle larvae sitting on a dandelion flower – these larvae are also known as triungulins.

Triungulins 2As you can see there are quite a lot of larvae in the one flower.

Triungulins 3Here is a close up – the triungulins are waiting for a solitary bee to visit the dandelion flower – a single triungulin will then attach to the bee’s leg and be transported back to its nest where it will then detach and feed on the larvae of the bee

Oil beetlesThis is what adult oil beetles look like when they emerge from the bee’s nest – these were both photographed last May again at Parke. The animal at the top of the picture is a female and the one at the bottom is the male.

Buglife in partnership with the National Trust is carrying out a survey into oil beetles – see here for details on how you can get involved.

Whilst the life styles / behaviours of bee flies and oil beetles might seem disturbing – remember that both bee flies and oil beetles are pretty rare whilst solitary bees are pretty common – if the balance were the other way around it just wouldn’t be sustainable!


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