Wing length 8 - 14mm. A bumblebee mimic that comes in two common forms. One is mainly black with a red tail, var. bombylans, and the other is black with a yellow band across its first abdominal segment and scutellum and has a white tail, var. plumata. They have a wing cloud and the antennae are plumose. They are easily told from bumblebees as they have much larger eyes than bees. There is a much rarer form which is much like var. plumata, but has a red tail, var. haemorrhoidalis.
Woodland edge, hedgerows and scrubby grassland. The larvae develop in the nests of wasps and bumblebees where they feed on nest detritus and the larvae of their hosts.
Status and distribution
Common throughout Britain and common on the reserve.
Best time to see
May to September.