Tiger Bee: Facts You Won't Believe!

Tiger bee fly facts are interesting.

There are around 800 species of bee flies in North America, including the tiger bee fly. The tiger bee fly (Xenox tigrinus), along with many others, belongs to the family Bombyliidae. While its massive size and fluffy body make it appear to be a bee, the insect is actually a fly. The belly of this bee fly is black and has two white dots. The black pattern in an otherwise translucent wing might be similar enough to tiger stripes to warrant the word tiger in their name. The tiger bee fly has distinct wing marks.

This species is most often seen flying near wooden fences, roof overhangs, porch railings, and other related wooden structures. The female tiger bee fly lays egg exactly where carpenter bees have already laid their eggs. Carpenter bee larvae are eaten by the tiger bee fly larvae. This is why female species look for wooden areas where carpenter bees have their established homes to lay their eggs.

Bee flies, on the other hand, are real flies, not bees. Their bee mimicry makes them resist certain would-be predators because they do not attempt to sting or bite.

If you like reading more such interesting facts about animals, do check out the rainbow bee eater and the red admiral butterfly.

Tiger Bee Fly

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Carpenter bee larvae

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?


How long are they?

0.4-0.7 in (11-19 mm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?


Skin Type


What are their main threats?


What is their conservation status?

Not Listed

Where you'll find them

Wooden areas, gardens


South Ontario, East United States





Scientific Name

Xenox tigrinus





Tiger Bee Fly Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Tiger Bee fly?

A tiger bee fly (Xenox tigrinus) is a form of a fly.

What class of animal does a Tiger Bee fly belong to?

This species of bees belong to the class Insecta.

How many Tiger Bee flies are there in the world?

The exact population is not known, but, a lot of people have used various methods to bring them to their garden and it has worked. Therefore, it can be assumed that their population is not threatened.

Where does a Tiger Bee fly live?

Tiger bees are mostly found around wooden fences around eastern parts of the United States and in southern parts of Ontario.

What is a Tiger Bee fly's habitat?

The exact detail about their habitat is not known. However, like the carpenter bee, it is said to be found in a wide range of habitats from subtropical to tropical to temperate.

Who do Tiger Bee flies live with?

Like most flies, this species also lives in groups of its own.

How long does a Tiger Bee fly live?

Not much is known about their lifespan, but it can be assumed that like any other flies, they have a very short lifespan.

How do they reproduce?

The female carpenter bee searches for carpenter bee nesting spots after mating. As a result, they're often seen hovering around carpenter bee nests. When a female tiger bee fly discovers a nest of carpenter bee larvae, she places her eggs near the bees' eggs.

The larvae of the fly are parasites. They are highly active as they hatch and move around looking for carpenter bee larvae. The tiger bee fly larvae soon latch on to freshly born carpenter bee larvae and eat them clean one by one. When tiger bee fly larvae have completed this monster mission, the carpenter bee is stuck with a vacant hull. The carpenter bee is then suffocated to death.

What is their conservation status?

Tiger bee flies are Not Listed under The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN Red List), but due to not having any great threats, it can be assumed that there is no immediate threat to their population.

Tiger Bee Fly Fun Facts

What do Tiger Bee flies look like?

Tiger bee fly facts are fun to read.

Adults vary in length from 0.4-0.7 in, excluding wings and other body parts such as antennae and legs. Their translucent wings have a characteristic black pattern and their black body has two white patches on the abdomen, because of its coloration and scale, the tiger bee fly may be overlooked for a big bee.

How cute are they?

They are not cute to look at. Their strange appearance and patches on the body make them scary to look at.

How do they communicate?

Not much is known about their communication, however, most flies communicate using vibrations made using their wings or legs.

How big is a Tiger Bee fly?

A tiger bee fly is about 0.4-0.7 in long.  It is about twice the size of an average mosquito. Their appearance often confuses people, who think of them like some big mosquito that looks harmful. The reality, however, is very different. They are of huge help in terms of protection against carpenter bees.

How fast can a Tiger Bee fly?

The exact speed of the tiger bee fly is not known. Although, a lot of people think that catching them or swatting them in the air is not easy, so we can assume that they are pretty fast.

How much does a Tiger Bee fly weigh?

The exact weight of these bees is not known.  However, based on their size it can be assumed that they are heavier than most other flies.

What are their male and female names of the species?

They do not have separate names for male and female species. Apart from tiger bee fly, other flies belonging to the bee fly species are greater bee fly, bombylious minor, bombylious discolor, and many more.

What would you call a baby Tiger Bee fly?

A baby tiger bee fly would be called larvae.

What do they eat?

Tiger bee flies eat nectar and pollen from flowers, plant sap, and honeydew. However, during the pupal stage, they eat carpenter bees.

Are they dangerous?

Contradictory to what a lot of people might think from their appearance, these flies are actually not dangerous. In fact, they are considered to be of help at the time of damage done by a carpenter bee. A lot of people intentionally add flowers to their backyard or gardens to attract them.

Would they make a good pet?

Flies and bees are not ideal to pet, because they eat directly from plants and flowers. They choose their own home based on their preference.

Did you know...

Bee flies, like most insects, prefer to live in areas where the food supplies are plentiful and where good egg-laying sites are accessible. As a result, bee fly adults are frequently seen visiting flowers in parks, gardens, prairies, and other places.

Since this species of fly feeds on carpenter bee eggs, female tiger bee flies are frequently seen circling concrete structures where carpenter bees have formed their nests. The mother bee fly can be seen rotating near the burrows, either on the ground or on dead branches.

Adults are frequently observed eating pollen belonging to the sunflower family, such as asters and coneflowers, and from some species like lilacs, apple blossoms, or plum blossoms. They sometimes feed while hanging over the flower, rather than perching on it.

Bee flies might seem like they are capable of inflicting a painful sting or bite, but rather they should be praised for their role in decreasing the numbers of truly dangerous insects like cutworms, armyworms, grasshoppers, and more.

Some bee flies experience hypermetamorphosis, which is a curious twist on the standard full-metamorphosis bee life cycle. The females of the flies deposit their eggs into the nest cavities of their particular host insect. The bee fly larva's initial, the youngest stage is very aggressive and runs around, making its way to finding host larvae or eggs, then attaching itself with the host, and eventually becoming a physically inactive maggot feeding on its host in later stages. When it leaves the nest of the host it matures into a feathered adult.

When seen from the front, this bee has the look of a large mosquito due to its long proboscis. However, they do not consume blood in any form.

Carpenter bees drill holes and lay eggs inside them. Tiger bees look for such holes, and only if there are eggs of carpenter bees inside it lays its own there.

How long is the incubation for a tiger bee fly?

The length of the incubation period of these flies is not known. However, as the larvae have a parasitic nature, the female tiger bee fly lays eggs on the nest of a host. Then after hatching, the larvae feed on the larvae of the host, without allowing the host to grow fully.

Do tiger bee flies transmit diseases?

Not much is known about the diseases they may or may not transmit, however, they are considered to be parasites for carpenter bees. People willingly invite these flies to get rid of carpenter bees, and since they do not bite or sting, they are considered to be safe.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including the panda ant and the red paper wasp.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our house fly coloring pages.



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