peach borer or mimic?
Location: powhatan county, virginia
June 17, 2011 10:22 am
there is a low-cut, decomposing stump in my flower bed, from a tree felled many years ago (hardwood, not fruit). when tending the flowers, i noticed and collected this insect, as well as several pupae cases (from which another like insect was emerging), from around the base of the stump on june 16, 2011.
i am not convinced it is a peach borer, because the antennae are very different, as are the eyes/head – more fly-like. the orange band is higher up on the abdomen, and the wings at rest fold over one another. i’m fairly certain it has only one set of wings. any info would be appreciated!
This incredible creature is a Mydas Fly, Mydas clavatus, and according to BugGuide, it is a: “Large black fly with red/orange mark on top (dorsum) of 2nd abdominal segment. Body hairless, cylindrical. Eyes large. Antennae are distinctively clubbed in the Mydidae. This species flies rather boldly in the open. With the black-and-orange pattern, it resembles a wasp and fools the casual observer.” The larvae live in compost piles, soil and rotting wood where they feed on June Beetle Larvae. According to BugGuide: “Eggs are laid singly in soil or rotting wood. (See video of oviposition–Flickr). Mydas larvae prey on beetle larvae, esp. those of June beetles. Larvae pupate close to soil (or wood?) surface. Adults are active only in mid-summer. Mating system in this species unknown.” You are observant in noticing that the Mydas Fly, in addition to mimicking Spider Wasps, looks very similar to a female Peach Tree Borer. The Peach Tree Borers are also wasp mimics, as you can see in this photo from our archives.
thank you so much. the more i talked about fly characteristics, i looked up all the flies on your site, and found Mydas after i had sent my email. i was thrilled to discover what it was, and promptly let it go. a beautiful fly, and a garden helper at that. when it flies, it has a very nice low buzz, also wasp-like and intimidating. i feel fortunate to have been able to examine it so closely during it’s brief adult stage. thank you again for your prompt response and devotion to the site.