Flies that parasitise Mining Bees

03rd April 2012
The entomologist and bee expert Steven Falk advises bee enthusiasts to always check mining bee colonies for any "attendant" flies. These may not be there purely by chance and may often be varieties that parasitise bees and bee colonies.

Taking his advice, I recently photographed some flies that were next to mining bee colonies; and struck lucky.

The image on the left is one of the Leucophora species - one of the Anthomyiid flies. This one is in the teneral stage; just hatched from the pupa and not yet showing its typical adult colouration. This will develop over the next day or so. These are also known as satellite flies, parasites that typically find host nests by directly following host females in flight at a fixed distance behind them. They then enter the nests and lay their own eggs in the brood chambers.

This example was photographed by the Yellow-legged Mining Bee (Andrena flavipes) colony at Cubbington Church in Warwickshire.

See larger images in the Image Gallery here.

This image is of a Conopid fly in the genus Myopa; possibly Myopa testacea. These flies are known as Thick-headed Flies becuase their head is thicker than their thorax. This fly was photographed by the Andrena nigroaenea Mining Bee colony in my front garden.

Myopa flies are internal parasitoids of bees and wasps. Females lurk around vegetation or flowers until a potential victim passes. They then grapple with them and insert an egg into their body cavity. When the egg hatches, the larva devours the host insect from the inside, eventually pupating in the host's empty shell. Their known hosts include bumblebees and solitary bees and may include social wasps.

See larger images in the Image Gallery here.

The left-hand image above shows the typical appearance of the Leucophora fly. The middle image is another view of the teneral form and the right-hand image another view of the Myopa fly.

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