Poecilanthrax willistoni

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Poecilanthrax willistoni
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Bombyliidae
Genus: Poecilanthrax
Species: P. willistoni
Binomial name
Poecilanthrax willistoni
Coquillett, 1887

Poecilanthrax willistoni, Williston's bee fly or sand dune bee fly, is a member of the Bombyliidae insect family. This family includes the bee flies, true flies that have developed Batesian mimicry characteristics to avoid predators. That is, they look like bees because that helps them avoid bee-wary predators, but they lack stingers.

P. willistoni also has larvae that act as parasitoids on other insect species. They drop their eggs strategically so that when the larvae emerge they can easily locate and consume grubs and caterpillars. The bee fly sometimes propels its eggs into holes where beetles live, and when the bee fly's eggs hatch, the larvae attack and eat the beetles' offspring. This species of bee fly lives on sand dunes, and so parasitizes sand dune insect species.

This species at a glance resembles a bee, fumbling flowers for nectar and sporting alternating orange and black bars down its abdomen. Unlike a bee, however, it has large red eyes and long, swept-back wings that it holds out from its body.


In Canada, it is found in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan; in the United States, it occurs in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming; in Mexico, it is only found in Baja California.[1]


  1. ^ a b Hull, F.M. (1973). Bee flies of the world. The genera of the family Bombyliidae. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press. pp. 687 pp. ISBN 0-87474-131-9.