On October 20, 2018, at Chassahowitzka WMA, I photographed an insect that I have never seen before and again on March 20, 2020. Most likely, not the same insect but the same species.
This documentation is super exciting for me as a nature photographer as well as being a recognized Florida Master Naturalist.
The Scaly Bee Fly is part of the Bombyliidae family and in the company of over 4000 other species. That’s a lot of flies!
Even though this bee fly looks adorable with its hunched back and black and yellow looking furry body, the female is pretty devious. She will often fling her eggs inside her chosen host’s nest cavity, which may include those of bees and grasshoppers.
Why doesn’t she build her own nest? That is a great question. My first thought would be she doesn’t have the right stuff to build a nest, or she’s super smart and doesn’t want to waste her energy on something that someone already made, plus she doesn’t have to take care of her kids. However, these are some made up theories off the top of my head, I will have to research that question more thoroughly!
As the Scaly Bee Fly larvae grow, they will attach and feed off its host larva or egg. After the fly has completed its larva stage inside the nest, they will emerge a fully matured winged adult.
Now don’t get too upset, as there is a place for all creatures in nature, and this particular fly helps control the population of some of Florida’s problematic insects.
I want to send a big thank-you to Bob McCall (iNaturalist) for sharing this information.
Enjoy and be safe in your travels!