July 29, 2021
Ben here with today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!
This is Xenox tigrinus, also known as the tiger bee fly! This large, unusual-looking fly is perfectly harmless to humans, and it's also a pollinator. And if you have a wood deck, it may just be your new best friend.
Like other members of the family Bombyliidae, also known as the bee flies, Xenon tigrinus parasitizes the larvae of another species of insect; in this case, Xylocopa virginica, the eastern carpenter bee. If you have a wood deck or exposed wood anywhere outside your home, you're probably intimately familiar with the tunnels that carpenter bees chew in your wood so they can build a nest and lay their eggs.
The tiger bee fly is also familiar with these tunnels. The females lay their eggs near the mouth of the tunnel, and once the eggs hatch, the fly larvae crawl into the carpenter bee nest and eat the bee larvae, sometimes waiting until they've entered the more vulnerable pupal stage. While these flies aren't the only parasites of carpenter bees, they are the most common.
While they're a fearsome sight for carpenter bees, us humans have nothing to fear from Xenox tigrinus. These flies cannot bite or sting.
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (www.cbtcares.com).
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS
If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!