Villa are Bombylid flies characterized by a short tongue, hyaline wings (at most with darkened front edge) and a square abdomen with, for most species, transverse yellow scale bands. They occur in sandy areas. Wopke Wijngaard filmed how Villa modesta shoots eggs into a hole, presumably of the specid wasp Ammophila (personal note and Wijngaard, 2013).


The key is basically taken from Falck (2009), extended with the work of Smit (2013). Stubbs and Drake (2001) present a key to the British Isles. Smit also revised the Dutch material, showing that Villa hottentotta regularly occurs in the Netherlands.  Villa circumdata was split by Lyneborg (1965) in two subspecies, which are recognized as valid species now, Villa fasciata and Villa longicornis.

1.a. Wings dark brown to black coloured on the front edge -> 2

1.b. Wings hyaline, at most light brown to yellowish shaded along the front edge -> 5

2.a. Wings with extensive dark shading on frontal edge, extending outwards beyond crossvein r-m and backwards beyond Radial vein -> 3

2.b. Wings narrowly coloured on frontal edge, the dark brown shading only covering the wing base, costal and first basal cell. Anal lobe narrow. Face with predominantly bright hairs, frons black-haired. Males with patagium with only dark scales, tergites and sternites without light scales. Female lacks bright scales on tergite 3, but has a band of whitish scales across the front end of tergites 2 an 4, of which the one on tergite 4 is the broadest, and often separated in the middle. Rear corners of tergite 5 and 6 with tufts of long black hairs, which gives a shining black appearance, contrasting with tufts of silvery white hairs on the sides of tergite 7 -> Villa panisca (Rossi, 1790)

3.a. Halteres dark brown to black -> 4

3.b. Halteres yellow to whitish. Body appears yellowish. Bands of light coloured scales on tergite 2 and 4 -> Villa fasciata (Meigen, 1804)

4.a.Facial hairs all black. Abdomen without yellow hairs, covered in black hairs, tufts of white hairs at both anterior and posterior corners, and with white scales forming a band across tergite 2 and 4 -> Villa occulta (Wiedemann in Meigen, 1820)

4.b. Face with black and yellow hairs. Body more yellowish, with yellowish crossbands -> Villa halteralis (Kowarz, 1883)

5.a. Males, tip of abdomen with a asymmetrical genital capsule -> 6

5.b. Females, tip of abdomen pointed and symmetrical, with two rows of flattened bristles -> 9

6.a. Patagium silvery white -> 7

6.b. Patagium dark brown, eventually with some yellowwhite scales intermixed; tergites 2-4 with small triangular dust spots in the front corners -> Villa hottentotta (Linneus, 1758)

7.a. Tergites with bands of bright scale; tergite 7: tufts of hair yellow/white; scales on occiput yellowish -> 8

7.b. Abdomen without bands of bright scales, at most with vaguely marked triangular spots in the front corner of tergite 2-4; tergite 7: tufts of hair white, contrasting with black tufts of hair on tergite 5 and 6; scales on occiput white -> Villa modesta (Meigen, 1820)

8.a. Tergite 3 without scale band, only laterally with some pale scales, tergite 2 with a narrow band, tergite 4 with a broad band and narrower bands on the hind margin of 5th and 6th tergite; frons with both blackish and pale scales -> Villa cingulata (Meigen, 1804)

8.b. Bands of pale scales on tergite 2, 3 and 4, the band on tergite 3 narrow. The pale bands on tergite 5 and 6 occupying the posterior half of the tergite; frons with only pale scales, black hairs on frons continuing as a wedge into the face along the eye rim; thin part of 3rd antennal segment constituting more than half the total length of the antenna -> Villa longicornis Lyneborg, 1965

9.a. The bands on tergite 2, 3 and 4 not of the same width. Occiput with scales that are pale yellow (not golden yellow), and the tufts of hair on the side of tergite 7 pale yellow or white. The bright band on tergite 3 never covering as much as half the side of the tergite -> 10

9.b. Tergites 2, 3 and 4 with nearly equally broad bands of bright scales, at sides reaching (almost) to the hind corner of the tergite. Especially the band on tergite 3 may be narrower in the middle, sometimes almost divided in two, but always covering more than half the side margin of the tergite. Occiput covered in golden yellow scales, the hair tufts on the side of tergite 7 golden yellow. Scales on dorsal side of hind tibia equal in length to the bristles -> Villa hottentotta (Linneus, 1758)

10.a. The band of bright scales on tergite 2 broader than that on tergite 4. That on tergite 3 narrow, often hardly visible. Scale hairs on hind tibia more or less equal in length to the black bristles -> 11

10.b. The bright band of scales on tergite 4 broad, occupying most of the tergite. The band on tergite 3 very narrow, but clearly visible in fresh specimens. Tergite 7 in middle with numerous pale scales, forming a broad band. Hind tibia dorsally with scale hairs only about a quarter the length of the bristles -> Villa cingulata (Meigen, 1804)

11.a. Sternite 3 with mostly dark scale hairs. Anal lobe of wings broad. Hind margin Of tergite 5 and 6 only vaguely equipped with light scales; antennae: first segment with only black bristles -> Villa modesta (Meigen, 1820)

11.b. Sternite 3 covered with bright scale hairs. Anal lobe of wing narrow. Tergite 5 and 6 with obvious bands of bright scales posteriorly; antennae: underside of first segment with yellow-white bristles -> Villa longicornis Lyneborg, 1965


Falck M. 2009. The Norwegian species of Villa Lioy 1864 (Diptera: Bombyliidae). Norwegian journal of Entomology 56, p: 120-130.
Lyneborg, L. 1965b. A Revised List of Danish Bombyliidae (Diptera) with a Subspecific Division of Villa circumdata. Meig. Ent. Meddr. 34: 155–166.
Smit J. 2013. De Hottentottenvilla  Villa hottentotta toch op de Nederlandse lijst (Diptera: Bombyliidae). Nederlandse Faunistisch Mededelingen 40, p: 23-33.
Stubbs A. E. and Drake M. 2001. Britisch soldierflies and their allies. British Entomological and Natural History Society, Dorset.
Wijngaard W. 2013. Het eileggedrag van enkele soorten wolzwevers (Diptera; Bombyliidae) Vliegenmepper 22(2), p: 13-15.

Last updated 2.2.2014