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.

Summer Summary

As the Bug Season winds down, the BugLady would like to celebrate summer by sharing a baker’s dozen of the pictures she’s taken in the past few months.

Phantom Crane Fly (Family Ptychopteridae)

Phantom crane flies (Bittacomorpha clavipes) can be seen east of the Rockies, from late spring to early autumn, in the fairly dense vegetation along the shady edges of wetlands. Sources describe them as floating through the air, legs spread, flapping their wings minimally, assisted aerodynamically by the flared areas on their legs.

Snipe Fly (Family Rhagionidae)

Golden-backed Snipe flies (Chrysopilus thoracicuschrysopilusmeans “golden hair” and thoracicus refers to the thorax) ply the tall grasses, sedges and thickets around wetlands east of the Great Plains. Look down—the BugLady rarely sees them higher than two feet off the ground.

The 12 Bugs of Christmas

With apologies to Olde English Folk Songs everywhere, here is the Second Annual Twelve Bugs of Christmas, featuring a Baker’s Dozen that were photographed this year but that did/will not appear in BOTWs. These pictures are a tribute to the joy of stumbling into the right place at the right time.

Cup Plant Cosmos

The BugLady spent some very warm days among the Cup plants, those jumbo prairie plants whose opposite leaves join around the stem resulting in a small reservoir that often holds rain water or dew. The undersurface of the tender top leaves of many Cup plants were wall-to-wall with (insert creepy adjective here) red aphids—a cast of thousands—and there were some very cool supporting actors.

Recent Bug Adventures

The BugLady has been out with her camera, walking non-aerobically and peering into plants. The “peering” has resulted in some interesting (if blurred) sightings (her macro lens is getting a bit cranky). Amazing things have been happening on milkweed, probably spurred by a banner crop of aphids on the leaves.

Big Bee Flies (Family Bombyliidae)

Bee Flies are big-eyed, with long legs, and long wings that are often strongly-patterned and are held out to the sides like a “V” when at rest. Because they hover, they’re mistaken for Flower-Hover-Syrphid flies. Like Syrphid flies they are bee mimics. Adults are diurnal, feed blamelessly on pollen and nectar from flowers, but most BF larvae are external parasites/parasitoids on the larvae of ground-nesting insects.

Corn Eaters

Adult Dingy Cutworm Moths fly at night throughout summer and fall, resting and nectaring on flowers in the aster/daisy/composite family. DCM eggs are laid by late August on clovers, dock, members of the aster family, and a number of agricultural crops like alfalfa, tobacco, wheat and corn. Picture-Winged Flies, on the other hand, prefer their corn on the cob.

Marsh Fly (Family Sciomyzidae)

The unassuming adult Marsh Fly is found near the quiet waters of the marshes, ditches, lakes and ponds that its larvae call home, and it may be out-and-about in pretty chilly weather. MFs are considered “indicator species,” whose presence or absence informs us about water quality: they are very pollution-tolerant.