Bombylius major Linnaeus, 1758
Common names: Large bee fly [En], Grand bombyle [Fr], Gewone wolzwever [Nl], Großer Wollschweber [De]
Meise, BRABANT ● Belgium
The adult is 14 to 18 millimetres (0.55 to 0.71 in) in length, squat and very hairy, with a wingspan of around 24 mm (0.94 in). Their body is stout and furry, with the top of the thorax being black and shiny and the pile either brown, yellow, or white. The wings are hyaline, with a sharply defined dark front border; the black patch fills the front cell R1 completely. It has long hairy legs that dangle while in flight. The very long proboscis is used to feed on the nectar of many species of flower, especially primroses. Their antennae are typically very short and pointed.
Biology: Bombylius major can be found in April to June. In the field they will be seen hovering and darting above bare ground or flowers, in an up-and-down movement, accompanied by a high-pitched buzz. Bombylius major mimic bees to allow them to get close to the bees burrow. When close, the female will flick the eggs into or near the nests of solitary bees and wasps. The larvae are parasitoids which then feed on the food stored, as well as the young solitary bees or wasps. If the female is unable to flick their eggs near the nest they’ll plant them on flowers visited by the host insects. The developing larvae then make their way to the host nest or attach themselves to the bees or wasps to then be carried to the nest. After hatching, the larvae find their way into the nests to feed on the grubs.
Habitat: Found in early spring around primroses and bugle along woodland rides.
Distribution: Temperate Europe and North America and some parts of Asia.
Wikipedia, Bombylius major
Van Veen M.Bombylius Key