Friday, June 5, 2020

Bee mimicking fly on flowers of Phalaris arundinacea cultivar

Phalaris arundinacea - Hoverfly Melanostoma

I was taking macro photos of the flowers of my ornamental Phalaris arundinacea 'Strawberries and Cream" when I noticed several small (less than 5 mm) bee-like insects rummaging on the inflorescence.

Phalaris arundinacea

The vast majority of grasses are wind-pollinated of course, but there have been cases of insect pollination, including by hoverflies.

The specimens visiting the grass flowers were identified as Toxomerus geminatus by Jeff Skevington in a Facebook group for hoverflies of the world.

In these hoverflies, the insect eats the pollen directly using its extended proboscis, and facilitates pollination when pollen sticks to it and transfer during its visit to another flower.

Phalaris arundinacea - Hoverfly Melanostoma

There were perhaps 3 or 4 total of the bee-mimicking hoverflies on the flowers at any one time, and  at first I was thinking they actually were small solitary bees, although a quick look at the photos shows the single pair of wings and stubby antennae that mark them as flies.

Phalaris arundinacea - Hoverfly Melanostoma

I have to admit it was interesting to see them at work, although taking good pictures was doubly difficult because of the high winds at the time.

A couple more pics below. Enjoy!

Phalaris arundinacea - Hoverfly Melanostoma

Phalaris arundinacea - Hoverfly Melanostoma


  1. Sorry, got confused. Toxomerus geminatus as lateral margin of tegites is black and yellow

    1. Thanks! For some reason I didn't get notice of this comment until now.