Tricks of the Trade – Thick-headed Flies (Family Conopidae)

Thick-headed flies nectar on flowers, but Ms. Myopa has an ulterior motive for being there—she’s looking for hosts for her offspring. When she spies a potential host, she flies up, intercepts the incoming bee in flight, grabs it, and inserts a single egg between two of its abdominal segments.

Wildflower Watch – Dawdling among Dandelions

Dandelions produce both nectar and pollen and so are appreciated by wildlife, especially early bees and butterflies (100 species of pollinators have been tallied). The BugLady has been dawdling among dandelions to see who else appreciates them. She saw representatives of 8 kinds of hymenopterans (ants/bees/wasps), 4 kinds of flies, 3 of arachnids (spiders and spider relatives), and 1 beetle. Seen, but not photographed, were a few cabbage butterflies.

Bugs Without Bios IX

Spring housecleaning—time to tidy up a few more insects whose biographies are short ones.

Twelve Bugs of Christmas

The fourth Annual chorus of “The Twelve Bugs of Christmas,” the BugLady offers a Bakers’ Dozen of Bug Portraits that were taken this year but are unlikely to appear in future BOTWs because their stories have been told in past BOTWs (hence, the links, for BugFans who want to know “The Rest of the Story”).

Winter Crane Fly (Family Trichoceridae)

Winter Crane Flies perch inside the mouths of caves, mines, hollow trees, and decaying logs in cool/temperate climates. Many species of WCFs overwinter as adults in sheltered nooks and crannies and are abroad in the chilly (but not freezing) air of early spring and late fall—even during mid-winter thaws, when they may be seen walking on snow.

Midsummer Report

The BugLady would like to dedicate this episode to the late (great) Cornell Professor Richard B. Fischer (January 19, 1919 – August 7, 2005) who taught the BugLady how to sneak up on insects (no bobbing or weaving, just slow and steady and straight ahead.

Bugs Without Bios VII

Time to celebrate three more unsung bugs—bugs about whom little is written and whose internet presence is mostly limited to species/collection/biodiversity lists, and to whom we will give their 15 minutes of fame. Remember—there are more than 100,000 species of insects on this continent north of the Rio Grande, many that are difficult to distinguish from their close relatives and that are lacking both common names and biographies.

A Bevy of Tachinid Flies

A common prairie resident in late summer is a large, noisy, skittish Tachinid fly with a bristly, bulbous, shiny black abdomen; the BugLady wrote about them in BOTW’s infancy in 2008. Tachinidae is considered the second largest fly family (after the crane flies), and it’s suspected that once all the undiscovered species of Tachinids have been described and welcomed into the fold, it may become the largest fly family.

Got Sunflowers?

Today we celebrate two American fruit flies that are sunflower specialists, the Sunflower Maggot Fly and the Sunflower Seed Maggot (“maggot” is simply a specific term for a fly larva), one of which has become an unwelcome immigrant to the Old World.

Robber Fly (Family Asilidae)

Robber Flies occur world-wide (except Antarctica), and although their diversity is greatest in warm, tropical/sub-tropical/semi-arid regions, they can survive north to the tundra. There are about 7,000 species total, just over 1,000 of which are found in North America. As a group, Robber Flies are sun lovers that occupy open habitats, woody edges and forest glades. They tend to be active during the hottest parts of the day.