This small (c.6 mm body length) specimen was seen on the path leading to an ancient woodland. But what species is it - canescens or minor?
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New for Britain should really be supported by a specimen, however, I think this photo is adequate. Also the possibility exists of a breeding colony. Given that your photo is of a male in good condition, it is highly likely that it emerged in this country. Please write this up and submit to Dipterists Digest this winter and start looking for funding for a survey next season or, failing this, a few volunteers to try and discover any colony. Plenty of people in Surrey that an help.
Just noticed this is 2008, have you been back, seen any since? Also, are you absolutely certain of the location?
Yes, quite sure of the location. It's my local site where I work with a group of conservation volunteers. We are on site 3-4 times a week and I have not seen this small bee-fly since.
What are the diagnostic features?
is the position of cross-vein r-m which in Bombylius is approximately in the middle of discal cell, well beyond m-cu. In Systoechus these two veins are opposite. Also the banded appearance of the abdomen is a good indicator of this genus. Other species of Systoechus are southern European and very unlikely to occur and are not so clearly banded because abdominal lines of bristles are pale.
Another feature, just visible in your photo, is that the eyes of the male are separated, contiguous for some distance in Bombylius.
Thanks David - I'll look it up on the net. It's a good job that I didn't decide to 'bin' this pic as I hadn't been able to ID it!
What a good find, Andy, congratulations to you and thanks to David for realising what it was! Now that David has pointed out the ID I can follow it through the key and agree with him, but I don't know whether I would have picked it out without his prompting.
Well worth publishing, as David says, and also looking out for more next year.
Although in the bee-fly family, the genus Systoechus is believed to have larvae that feed on the egg-sacs of grasshoppers, although having discussed this with David we don't think this has actually been proved for this particular species.
Entomologist and biological recorder
This is quite a find...another example of iSpot in action!
It also illustrates the benefit of a decent camera for insect pictures and the importance of remembering to keep it with you at all times!
My Flickr photos...
David mentioned in his Radio 4 interview that this fly lacks a common name. Since David's excellent knowledge of Bombyliidae has made this identification possible we would suggest to call it 'Gibb's bee-fly'.
To save David's blushes,I can suggest that that is not a suitable name. The species is not new to science, but is new to these shores.
cteno-pterus in Greek means comb-winged, so perhaps that should be in the name?
"The Comb-winged Bee-fly".
I rest my case. :)
Well, it is only the English name that we are talking about, so being 'new to these shores' is sufficient to warrant a new English name, and there are plenty of precedents for naming insects after the people involved in finding them (e.g. Clancy's Rustic and Porter's Rustic among the moths). "Comb-winged" sounds intriguing, although it's not clear to me why it has that name - what is it about the wings that is combed?
And while we're debating the subject, this fly doesn't have anything to do with bees, despite being in family Bombyliidae.
How about "Andy and David's Comb-winged Grasshopper-fly"?!
And there's me thinking that "bee-fly" meant that these lovely insects resemble bees ;-)
Not to be confused with the airline Flybe
University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)
Not only do they resemble bees but they sound like bees but louder,I have had these in my garden in west Wales for a few years now,I will try to get some photos soon,
PS When it stops raining
I discovered a bee-fly in my garden in Essex the other week and had no idea what it was... went straight to my ID book. Didn't maange to get a picture of it sadly but will be ready for it next time!
er,will post some pics later today,am 99% sure that we have had these in watford (herts)for the last 5 years,we seem to have 3-4 different ones round here.
Nice! Look forward to seeing them. Can you paste links to your new observations either in to an edited version of your first comment, or into a new one here? That way, anyone who commented on the original observation will get a link to your message & your new observations.
Despite us looking for this species across the site, there were no sightings. However, there were very few sightings of B. major either - our commonest species on the site. Perhaps the weather intervened........
Thanks for the update, Andy.
I live at Waltham Abbey in Essex and we had one of these bee flys in our garden today; looking on the Internet I believe it was a 'Systoechus ctenopterus'.
It's the first time I've seen one of these and it looked quite frightening...
Much more likely to be a Bombylius, to be honest, and major is far and away the commonest species.
Look at B. discolor and B. major on here...
If you see it again it would be great if you can get a photo and post it on here, always worth checking these things out! Ideally need a clear shot of the wings to help confirm the identification.
Lat/Lng: 51.3095, -0.1752
OS grid ref: TQ272582