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.
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.
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 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.
Fruit Flies “pomace flies,” because the name “Fruit fly” was already bestowed on the peacock fly that causes the goldenrod ball gall and the Mediterranean fruit fly that devastates commercial fruit growing areas. Scientists love FFs because its short life cycle and the super-sized chromosomes in its salivary glands combine to make the species easy to rear in huge numbers (its reproductive success makes bunnies jealous) and easy to do genetic research on.
Greenbottle flies are darlings of the CSI folks. Most blow flies eat and breed on decaying matter, and a carcass draws a crowd. Eggs are laid on carrion or garbage; the larvae (maggots) mature in two to ten days and pupate in the soil. Drone flies are found on flowers of meadow and field, especially composites, eating nectar and pollen. Hairy and yellow-and-brown-striped, the adults are mimics of male honey bees.
Dance flies get their name from the habit of males of some species to gather in large groups and dance up and down in the air in the hopes of attracting females. They can also be found hunting for small insects on and under vegetation in shady areas and on front porches at night.
Flies have two wings and although there are a few wingless fly species, there are no four-winged flies (and the majority of non-fly insects that do have wings have four of them). Flies practice Complete Metamorphosis, morphing from egg to larva (a legless, cylindrical “maggot”) (maggot—such a prejudicial term) to pupa to adult.
Flies belong to the Order Diptera. They have two, membranous forewings and vestigial hind wings that have been reduced to knobs called “halteres” (which help the insect balance). They have mouthparts that may be adapted for piercing, lapping or sponging. In this episode, mosquitoes, deer flies, horse flies, and black horse flies are featured.
When you are scrutinizing the prairie flowers in late summer and you spy a “plus-sized” fly with a teeny tiny tutu, it’s probably a Tachinid fly. Instead of laying their eggs in another insect’s nest, they lay one to two eggs in an unsuspecting caterpillar’s “hard-to-reach spots”. The maggots live as internal parasites, consuming their hosts’ less important tissues first and not finishing off the vital organs until they are ready to pupate.