The Anthracite Bee-fly, Anthrax anthrax


Anthracite Bee-fly, Anthrax anthrax - photo by Rob Mills

In August 2017 a new bee-fly was confirmed in Britain, when Rob Mills photographed it in his Cambridgeshire garden. It has been given the names Black Bee-fly or Anthracite Bee-fly, and its rather alarming scientific name of Anthrax anthrax derives from the Greek for coal, referring to its colour.

Like several of the bee-fly family, this distinctive species lays its eggs in and around solitary bee nests, and the fly's larva takes over the bee nest. The Anthrax bee-fly is particularly associated with mason bees (genus Osmia) and other solitary bees, and on the continent has benefited from the popularity of 'bee hotels', even in urban areas.

So far only one individual bee-fly has been confirmed in 2017 (there are museum specimens from the 1920s that are labelled as being British but are suspected to have originated from the continent). If it does establish itself it could become a familiar sight in gardens. We are keen to monitor its spread, and with help from Buglife we are asking people to watch out for it. Records, preferably with photos, can be added to iRecord, or sent in to Buglife (info@buglife.org.uk). May and June are the peak months for it on the continent, but its flight period can extend into August or even September.

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