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Friday, April 6, 2001



* Japanese name: Birodo tsuriabu

*Scientific name: Bombylius major * Description: Bee-flies look like bees, but are in fact furry flies. You can tell this because they have only one pair of wings, like flies (bees have two pairs). The tips of the wings are transparent, but the base is dark brown. They grow up to 16 mm long. *Where to find them: Around flowers in parks, gardens and woodlands. They fly on sunny days, from March to May. If you see a bee-fly at a flower, you know spring has come. * Food: Bee-flies hover over flowers like hummingbirds, sucking nectar through their long proboscis (tongue). Like bees, they help pollinate plants. * Special features: Bee-flies not only look like bees, they also live with them. Females lay their eggs in the nests of certain bees, like cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of different birds. But the bee-fly larvae are parasites: they eat the bee larvae. When they are big enough, the bee-fly larvae pupate in a cocoon, ready to emerge as adults the following spring.

Larvae: The worm- or maggot-like stage in the insect life-cycle. Pupate: An insect larva becomes a pupa when it is ready to change into its adult form. Parasite: An animal or plant that lives and feeds on or in another animal, called the host. The host is usually harmed by the parasite.

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