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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/What are these? Bees? Wasps?


Big scary mama
Big scary mama  
Tiny little bugger
Tiny little bugger  
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Nicole. I live in Cockeysville in northern central Maryland. I moved in with my boyfriend early this summer about 15 miles from where I have lived my whole life. We have an apartment on the top floor at the end of our building, which is at the end of our street. I enjoy sitting on the balcony but there's these tiny little things that look like bees but I don't know what they are. One of them stung me about 3 weeks ago. I had a welt within 15 seconds, it hurt really bad and was sending shooting pain up and down my arm.( I was stung on my elbow.) The pain subsided after a few days and it became very itchy. After a few more days it started hurting again and it still hasn't completely healed. Today I was sitting on my balcony and all of a sudden there was maybe 10 of those little buggers and 1 giant one. I'm not sure if they are related or if it's just coincidence, but I was able to take pictures before I retreated inside. I was wondering if you could tell me what they are, how to get rid of them if possible, and what to do if I get stung again. Thank you so much. ( In the first picture the " thing " is on the outer part of the screen door which is 1.5 inches wide to give you an idea of it's size. )

ANSWER: Nicole,

The first image ("tiny little bugger") is a syrphid fly. Syrphid flies don't bite or sting, are you certain that this is what stung you? These flies will sometimes land on people to gather sweat but can't bite or sting. The second image ("big scary mama") is a wasp (which can sting) but I can't see enough detail to id. Is it possible that you were stung by the larger wasp but saw the smaller flies and assumed that they did the damage? Post a follow up.

Jack DeAngelis

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Mr. Bug
Mr. Bug  
QUESTION: I was sitting on my balcony playing games on my phone, and I felt a pinch on my arm. I lifted it up and there was a very tiny bee like thing on my arm with its back end hunched towards my arm and it was moving, but looked like it's stinger was stuck in my skin. I flicked it off and looked at my arm where it was. There was a welt where it had just been. It looked like what was in the first picture. Is there something that looks similar that is also tiny and stings? I went outside to try and get a better picture of the wasp but it was gone. I did see this weird looking thing though.

Ok, rather than a syrphid fly it must have been a deer fly, which do bite, and look similar. Deer flies are often associated with water such as ponds or lakes. Deer flies are related to the larger, dark in color, horse flies that are common around cattle and horses. See this bulletin from Kentuckt about these flies

Jack DeAngelis

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis


I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.


20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.


Ph.D. in Entomology

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