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Tmemophlebia coquilletti

What do they look like?

Tmemophlebia coquilletti is a grey species. It has a long mouthpart called a proboscis. Antennae are above the proboscis. Its wings are slightly milky in color, with pale veins. This species is usually smaller, ranging between 1.5 to 3.5 mm.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range length
    1.5 to 3.5 mm
    0.06 to 0.14 in

Where do they live?

Tmemophlebia coquilletti is a species of bee fly that is widespread across North and South America, from southern Canada to Brazil. (Kits, et al., 2008; McLeod, 2012)

What kind of habitat do they need?

These bee flies can be found on or near sand dunes or other sandy, dry regions. (McLeod, 2012)

How do they grow?

Bee flies go through complete metamorphosis, with life stages of egg, larva, pupa, and adult. They also go through hypermetamorphosis, where the first stage of the larva is completely different from the later larval stages. The first larval stage is active, and is long with fleshly little appendages. It is able to move around so that it can find another insect to live in. They find a moth's nest (families Gelechiidae and Tortricidae), and then they become the next stage of larva, where they are parasites on the moth pupa. They eat the moth pupa, and then they become pupa. They have spines on their bodies that they use to drill out of the moth pupa, leaving a large hole in the dead moth. When the pupae emerges from the moth nest, and then emerges from pupation as a flying adult. (Bartlett, 2013; Kits, et al., 2008; Yeates and Greathead, 1997)

How do they reproduce?

Female bee flies fly to high places such as hills to find males to mate. Males often gather in groups in these places. This is called "hilltopping". Females choose which males they want to mate with, though sometimes males will just grab females as they go flying past. Mating can last for more than 100 minutes. Male bee flies have territories that they defend from other males. Males fight by colliding in mid-air, and they have spines on their wings that can cut up their opponent during the fight. (Yeates and Dodson, 1990)

Females of Tmemophlebia coquilletti have a pouch at the end of that abdomen. This pouch is used to gather and hold small bits of sand or dirt and glue it to the eggs. The eggs are then laid in a moth nest while the female is hovering overhead. Bee flies produce anywhere from 100 to 3000 eggs. (Yeates and Greathead, 1997)

Male bee flies might transfer nutrients to the female bee fly during mating. These nutrients would be passed on to the offspring for development. Females contribute care by collecting and gluing together small particles of sand to the eggs before flicking them off her body. Once the eggs are laid, neither males nor females provide any more care. (Yeates and Greathead, 1997)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning

How long do they live?

Tmemophlebia coquilletti adults likely live for about a month. (Kits, et al., 2008)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 months

How do they behave?

Bee flies are very mobile, hovering or flying in their adult life. Bee flies live alone as adults except for when they mate or when males fight other males to defend their territories. Larvae stay in groups on or in the host insect before emerging. Bee flies are diurnal and most active on sunny days. (Yeates and Dodson, 1990)

How do they communicate with each other?

Bee flies likely communicate with sight, as females fly past males while hilltopping before mating. They also probably detect chemicals, and detect sounds. First stage larvae have to find moths that they can feed on, but it is not known how the larvae find the moth. (Feener and Brown, 1997)

  • Other Communication Modes
  • mimicry

What do they eat?

Bee flies feed on nectar and pollen as adults. Larvae feed on the body of an insect host, usually a moth. (Kits, et al., 2008; Whelan and Bowles, 1994)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • nectar
  • pollen

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Birds are one predator of Tmemophlebia coquilletti. Bee flies can sometimes avoid being eaten by predators because they look like bees. This is called mimicry. Predators do not like to eat bees, since bees can sting, so predators avoid any insects that look like bees, just to be safe. (Bartlett, 2013; McLeod, 2012)

  • These animal colors help protect them
  • mimic
  • Known Predators

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

These bee flies pollinate flowers when they feed on them, which helps the flowers to reproduce. The larvae are parasites of Gelechiidae and Tortricidae moths. Gelechiidae moth larvae feed on Douglas fir trees, so these bee flies help prevent damage to the fir trees by parasitizing the moths. Tortricidae moth larvae feed on fruit, so these bee flies can prevent damage to fruit by feeding on the moth larvae. (Chapman, 1973; Whelan and Bowles, 1994)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • pollinates
Species (or larger taxonomic groups) used as hosts by this species
  • moth, Gelechiidae
  • moth, Tortricidae

Do they cause problems?

Bee flies do not cause any problems for humans.

How do they interact with us?

Tmemophlebia coquilletti larvae are parasites on Tortricidae moths. Tortricidae moths are pests on fruit, such as apples. The moths can do damage to apple orchards, and cause apple farmers to lose money since they do not have any crops to sell. By eating the moths, these bee flies can help prevent damage to the apple orchards. (Chapman, 1973; Whelan and Bowles, 1994)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • controls pest population

Are they endangered?

Tmemophlebia coquilletti is not an endangered species.

Some more information...


Jayna Sames (author), University of Michigan Biological Station, Brian Scholtens (editor), University of Michigan Biological Station, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.


Bartlett, T. 2013. "Family Bombyliidae - Bee Flies" (On-line). Bug Guide. Accessed August 08, 2013 at

Chapman, P. 1973. Bionomics of the apple-feeding Tortricidae. Annual Review of Entomology, 18: 73-96.

Feener, D., B. Brown. 1997. Diptera as Parasitoids. Annual Review of Entomology, 2: 73-97.

Kits, J., S. Marshall, N. Evenhuis. 2008. The bee flies (Diptera: Bombyliidae) of Ontario, with a key to the species of eastern Canada.. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, 6: 1-52.

McLeod, R. 2012. "Genus Tmemophlebia" (On-line). Bug Guide. Accessed August 08, 2013 at

Whelan, C., M. Bowles. 1994. Restoration of Endangered Species: Conceptual Issues, Planning and Implementation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Yeates, D., D. Greathead. 1997. The evolutionary pattern of host use in the Bombyliidae (Diptera): a diverse family of parasitoid flies. Biological Journal of the Linnean Societ, 60: 149-185.

Yeates, D., G. Dodson. 1990. The Mating System of a Bee Fly (Diptera: Bombyliidae). I. Non-Resource-Based Hilltop Territoriality and a Resource-Based Alternative.. Journal of Insect Behavior, 3: 1-15.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Sames, J. 2014. "Tmemophlebia coquilletti" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 13, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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