A Passel of Predators

The BugLady has been a fan of predators since she was old enough to lisp out the word. She likes the cuts of their collective jibs and their matter-of-fact fierceness. To her, the “eat-ers” are far more interesting than the “eat-ees.”

Long-legged Fly (Family Dolichopodidae)

There are around 7,000 species in the Long-legged Fly family worldwide (600 species in just the single genus Dolichopus), and that 1,300 species live in North America! They’re a big bunch of small (¼”), big-eyed, often metallic (and, yes—long-legged) flies. Look for long-legged flies (LLFs) on leaves in dappled shade near gardens, grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands

Bugs Without Bios II

The BugLady had a professor years (decades) ago who used to say “Don’t just tell them what it is, tell them ‘What about it?’” Here is the second installment of miscellaneous bugs with brief biographies—insects about whom the BugLady can’t find many “What about it’s.”

Feather-legged Fly (Family Tachinidae)

Feather-legged flies are tachinids in the genus Trichopoda (hair foot). They cruise the flowers, looking for nectar for themselves and “warm bodies” for their offspring. Females may also search while hovering. FLFs specialize in stink bugs, squash bugs and leaf-footed bugs, many of whom are crop pests. The maggot hatches, tunnels into its host, and feeds on the innards for two weeks before exiting to pupate as the host dies.

Leaf-footed Bugs (Family Coreidae)

Leaf-footed Bugs are darkish, mid-to-large sized bugs (¾” to 1”), and many (but not all) have what is described as a leaf-shaped “flange” on the lower part of the back leg (tibia). The males of some species are armed with massive, spiked (often battle-scarred) thighs (femurs) that they whack each other with when in combat over females. L-fBs have a lot of parallel veins on the membranous part of the front wing. Most are herbivores, using their impressive mouthparts to pierce plant parts and suck out the juices.

House Fly (Family Muscidae)

House flies (Musca domestica) may have originated in the Middle East, and they’ve been around for at least 65 million years. One source suggests that house flies arrived in the Americas with, or even before, Columbus. Given a choice, house flies pick warmer climes (with temperatures up to 100 degrees) over colder climes; in colder climes, they survive with the assistance of humans.

Cluster Fly (Family Calliphoridae)

A little larger and chunkier than a house fly, Cluster flies have golden hairs on the thorax, above and below, that make them look like they’ve been sprinkled with glitter. These tawny hairs are prominent when the flies are younger but may get worn off as they age. They hail from across the Pond, probably arriving from Europe in ships’ ballast.

Flesh Fly (Family Sarcophagidae)

With the exception of South America, Flesh Flies are common around the globe. They are outdoor flies, preferring the intersect where dung/decaying plants/decaying flesh meet daylight. The larvae of some species act as biological controls that eat or parasitize snails, wasps, bees, beetles, grasshoppers, forest tent caterpillars, and some fellow flies, but as a group, they are scavengers on dead stuff.

Goldenrod Watch

The BugLady’s advice for the day is: Find yourselves a big clump of goldenrod and start looking. Bring your camera. Bring a lawn chair. What will you see?

Moth Fly (Family Psychodidae)

Moth flies have long antennae and their wings are scale/hair-covered and disproportionately large. They are weak flyers who often lurch about. Moth fly generations are short generations, but new adults are constantly emerging, mating, and laying eggs, so there is a lot of overlap of generations. The larvae of many moth flies are at home in the wet film that lines plumbing pipes and in the traps of drainpipes.