A Few Flighty Flies

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

I find the flies to be one of the more interesting groups of insects and I was constantly on the lookout for new species to photograph this summer.  There is such diversity in the flies, from size to form and function.  There is still so much to learn about some flies, including some rather common species that researchers have still not described where or on what the larval forms live.  To start, here is a closeup of a true giant of the flies, a Robber Fly (Family Asilidae).  The Robberflies are true predators, with an intimidating beak that they use to inject neurotoxic and protein-dissolving cocktails.

Trichopoda pennipes
Trichopoda pennipes

The photograph above showcases a fly that should be a favorite of gardeners and farmers.  Flies in this family (Tachinidae) parasitize a number of different insects and this species specializes in many of the plant-feeding true bugs like Stink Bugs and Leaf-footed Bugs.  The generic name can be translated from Greek to mean “hairy foot” and the specific name “pennipes” means feather.  This namesake feature can be seen on the rear legs of this fly in the photograph above.

Thick-headed Fly
Thick-headed Fly

The Thick-headed Flies are extremely interesting and a joy to watch.  These guys not only mimic bees and wasps, but they also parasitize the hymenoptera by depositing their eggs on the stinging insect, sometimes attacking the host to place their egg.  The eggs hatch and the larvae become internal parasites of their host.

Geron Bee Fly
Geron Bee Fly

The minuscule Bee Flies in the genus Geron parasitize moth caterpillars.  The adults of these flies feed almost exclusively on yellow-flowered Asteraceae.

Scorpion Fly
Scorpion Fly

Don’t be threatened by the sting-like structure that this Scorpionfly (Family Panorpidae) has arched over its back.  This is simply the male genitalia and is quite harmless.  Scorpionflies primarily make a living by scavenging on dead insects, and like many flies, exhibit elaborate behaviors to attract mates.  These flies will perform various dances in front of females and will often provide a ripe insect carcass as a prenuptial gift.

So Long!
So Long!

Finally, here is a rather different view of a Greenbottle Fly.  I hope this helps to describe some of the fascinating diversity in form, function and behavior that can be found within the Diptera.  These are but just a few of the easier to find and photograph!  I hope to continue my exploration of these fascinating insects next year.

-OZB

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