Rob's plants
home garden plants wildlife seed photos
plant sale journal topics plantlinks fun guestbook

Flying with two wings

Flies and mosquitos are categorized in the insect order diptera, which refers to the fact that they have only two wings (most other insects have four).

Until I started paying attention, I never knew quite what variety of flies there are, even in my own back yard. Some of them resemble houseflies, but many are more wasp-like in appearance. Some buzz around mightily, while others are so tiny they're hard to see.

Insects, yum!

Flies' appetites vary. Some of the more interesting ones prefer to feed on their fellow insects.
This predatory fly (possibly a scathophagid) was carrying around a smaller fly. Since flies don't have biting mouthparts, they can only eat liquid food. To eat its prey, it needs to dissolve it in its enzyme-rich saliva. Bon appetit.
Robber flies hunt other insects for a living. This one is a hanging thief (Diogmites sp), named for the way it hangs from its forelegs while maneuvering its prey with the remaining four. I'm not sure if the wasp in the photo was its prey or just a bystander. diogmites hanging thief robber fly

Yum, dung!

This dung fly (scathophagidae family) is grooming itself with its front legs. dung fly

Multi-faceted love

toxomerus mating These two little syrphid flowerflies (probably toxomerus geminatus) were inseparable, flying from one perch to the next one sunny day in early October. syrphidae mating
Late October is still a great time to procreate, especially on a warm sunny day with a fragrant garden mum perch. While larger than the ones above, they also belong to the syrphid flies, in the eristalis genus. mating eristalis flies

Tachinids and syrphids

Tachinid flies feed on flower nectar as adults, but their younger stages are parasites of other insects. This one, a featherlegged fly (Trichopoda sp.), uses true bugs as its unfortunate hosts.
These syrphid flies, resembling small wasps, are quite abundant in the late fall, here seen visiting a Sheffield mum. wasp-striped syrphid fly
Syrphid fly: Helophilus fasciatus (female)

 

The patterning on this Helophilus fasciatus syrphid identifies her as a girl-fly. She's lounging on a pendent panicle of sea oats (Chasmanthius latifolium).

syrphid fly: toxomerus geminatus (male) syrphid fly: toxomerus geminatus (female)
The most abundant syrphids in our garden are these little Toxomerus geminatus flies, recognizable by the little keyhole patterns along the center of their backs. The one at left is a male, at right a female. Drone fly: Eristalis tenax?

One cool October afternoon, I spotted this fuzzy insect sleeping on the leaf of an Abelmoschus manihot. I thought for sure it was a solitary bee, but upon closer inspection (and checking at BugGuide.net), I found out it was in fact a fly that takes on a bee-like appearance for its own evolutionary reasons: Eristalis tenax, the drone fly. Conveniently, he remained motionless as I repositioned his bed this way and that to take a few photos. Must have had a hard day going about its drone duties...

Blowflies

A small blowfly, probably the Lucilia illustris greenbottle. I see them around throughout the season, usually on flowers. greenbottle lucilia illustris
orange-bodied blowfly Here's another one, probably also in the Lucilia genus, just as irridescent, but with more of a bronze coloration.

And much, much more...

So many flies, most of them go without ID. Here's a sampling. long-legged fly Condylostylus (dolichopodidae)

This tiny thing caught my eye because it's so shiny and colorful. A long-legged fly in the dolichopodidae family, a species of Condylostylus. long-legged fly Condylostylus

This one, also a Condylostylus, wasn't quite as small, and more uniformly red in its metallic sheen. fruit fly Strauzia


Several of these fruit flies (in the Strauzia genus) were roaming the undersides of sunflower leaves for a few weeks in early summer. I think of them as punk rock flies! thickheaded fly conopidae

 

This is a thickheaded fly from family Conopidae, most likely a species in genus Physocephala. They look like slender-waisted wasps, but their wings give them away.

Bee flies

Xenox tigrinus: tiger bee fly

Bee flies are furry like bees, but their other anatomical characteristics give away their flydom. The first time I noticed one, an impressive specimen of tiger bee fly (Xenox tigrinus), it particularly attracted to me and my shirt one day in August. The attraction wasn't mutual, but he looked cool enough for me to take his picture. Since then, I've seen several more, although I don't consider them common in our garden. The one shown here was perched on the kids' swingset.

Mosquitos and such

Looking like a huge mosquito, luckily this insect, a cranefly (Tipulidae family) doesn't bite. Like mosquitos, though, it likes moist environments, and its larvae are aquatic. tipulidae crane fly

Visitors to this page have left the following comments


 

I welcome comments about my web pages; feel free to use the form below to leave feedback about this particular page. For the benefit of other visitors to these pages, I will list any relevant comments you leave, and if appropriate, I will update my page to correct mis-information. Faced with an ever-increasing onslaught of spam, I'm forced to discard any comments including html markups. Please submit your comment as plain text. If you have a comment about the website as a whole, please leave it in my guestbook. If you have a question that needs a personal response, please e-mail me.

Your name

Your comments

home garden plants wildlife seed plant sale topics guestbook journal plantlinks

Last modified: November 29, 2011
Contact me