What bit me?
May 30, 2007 11:32 AM   Subscribe

What is this insect that bit me?

I was driving near Mono Lake, just east of Yosemite last Friday and this insect (bee? fly? bee fly?) flew in the window of our truck and bit/stung me on the knee. After it stung me (through a pair of tights), it rolled down into the cab of the truck and didn't seem to be able to fly. After my freak-out, we pulled over and dumped it out on the road, still hobbling around in the folds of my jacket. It still couldn't fly and seemed dazed.

The sting/bite hurt a lot for a brief period of time and resulted in a small (maybe a half inch total) raised inflamed area that persisted for about 45 minutes. There didn't seem to be any sort of stinger left in my skin and after the 45 minutes or so, it disappeared. We got bored watching it and left it on the side of the road. Any ideas what it is? I've never been stung by a bee or a wasp so I don't know what that feels like though this doesn't really look like a typical bee.
posted by otherwordlyglow to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
Looks and sounds like a horse fly to me. Pesky little buggers.
posted by aznhalf at 11:42 AM on May 30, 2007

Best answer: It reminds me a lot of a sweat bee.
posted by malaprohibita at 11:43 AM on May 30, 2007

Response by poster: That sweat bee link is interesting as it talks about the alkali bee. The Mono Basin is exactly what it sounds like they like. And it looks similar, too.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:49 AM on May 30, 2007

Response by poster: Hmmm. Don't remember the antennae at all. But that picture on the sweat bee site looks remarkably similar to what I remember. Could be a horsefly, I guess but the pics I can find of them aren't quite right.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:10 PM on May 30, 2007

Doesn't look big and bulky enough for a horse fly. And that segmented body (with the visibly differentiated thorax and abdomen) is more along the lines of a bee or wasp.
I vote for sweat bee of some sort.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:14 PM on May 30, 2007

Looks to me like a blowfly. I used to see them every now and then on our property.. a lot like a housefly but with a bite, but it's not a bigass horsefly.
posted by zek at 12:46 PM on May 30, 2007

I will also add that those flies we had did not bite, but would just prick a little bit. It could have been a stable fly too.
posted by zek at 12:48 PM on May 30, 2007

I think it was a green bee.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:27 PM on May 30, 2007

I noticed in the large size of your photograph that there are blurry, but still visible, antennae. I'll also second Thorzdad's observation of the distinct head, thorax, and abdomen segments. I'll stand by my sweat bee decision. :)
posted by malaprohibita at 1:31 PM on May 30, 2007

I'll also throw out the What's That Bug link to the bee page. It's a great site.
posted by malaprohibita at 1:38 PM on May 30, 2007

Some sort of blackfly/deerfly, I think. Probably not a greenhead, which seems to be an Eastern species. I was bitten once by a blackfly and it hurt like a mother - and I had a scar forever. Sweat bee seems likely.
posted by rtha at 2:27 PM on May 30, 2007

I think I see two wings on the left side in the photo (the insect's right side), which would tend to confirm your suspicion that it is a sweat bee instead of a fly of some sort.

Flies, in the order Diptera, have one pair of wings, with the second, rear pair modified into halteres. Bees and wasps, in the order Hymenoptera, have two pair of wings. There's a nice description here of how to distinguish between between bees and flies.

I'm guessing, as others have guessed above, that it is a halictid bee. Perhaps something in the tribe Augochlorini or the genus Agapostemon.
posted by nobodyyouknow at 5:36 PM on May 30, 2007

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