Currently viewing the category: "Small Headed Flies"
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Subject: Iridescent Hymenoptera (or Hymenoptera mimic)
Location: Eastern Nevada County, CA
June 17, 2013 11:25 pm
I found this insect visiting a patch of Hackelia velutina growing on a mountainside (fairly rocky terrain with scattered Red Fir, Lodgepole Pine, and Sierra Juniper; elev. 7850 ft.) It landed while I was taking a photo of a flower cluster, but unfortunately left before I could get a closer shot of it, so all I have of it is this crop.
At first glance, it appeared to be some sort of bee, but the thin, hairless, yellow legs suggest otherwise. Now I’m thinking it might be some sort of Syrphid fly mimicking a bee, but that family seems to be such a big mixed-bag that I wouldn’t even know where to start to narrow it down, if that’s even it.
Any clue as to what this iridescent little fellow is?
Signature: Tom

Possibly Small Headed Fly

Possibly Small Headed Fly

Dear Tom,
This reminded us of Small Headed Fly photos we have posted in the past, and upon searching BugGuide, we believe it looks like a good match for Small Headed Flies in the genus
EulonchusEulonchus smaragdinus, which is pictured on BugGuide, has yellow legs.

Eric Eaton Concurs
I’m out of town with limited internet access until June 25 (Tuesday)….
I’d agree the genus is Eulonchus, most likely, but the genus needs revision, so no telling which species.

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Denver Buzzbomb!!!
We keep finding these little “buzzbombs” in our basement. Almost every day there is a new one trying to wreck the place. I think they might be some kind of ground bee, but I’m not sure. I can’t find anything quite like them on your site. They look like Tachinid flies, but their head is much smaller and located underneath their body instead of at the front. He’s an incredibly ungraceful flier, and spends most of his time in the house trying to get off his back. I cooled him down in the refrigerator to photograph him, and to warm up, he would buzz like a jet engine winding up. They are some of the strangest flies I’ve ever seen in Colorado. Thanks for your time.
Ryan Langan

Hi Ryan,
Interestingly, it seems like you arrived at the correct answer when you wrote: “… flies, but their head is much smaller … .” This looks to us like a Small Headed Fly in the family Acroceridae, and of the photos on BugGuide, it looks closest to Pterodontia flavipes or another member of the genus. We will try to contact Eric Eaton to get another opinion.

Update: (08/10/2008)
Hi, Daniel:
Yes, it is indeed a small-headed fly! Great call! Not sure of the genus, though. As larvae they are parasitic on spiders.

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Hello, I have tried to get an ID on this insect.
The picture is taken in in Northern California (the foothills of the Trinity Alps) at about 2000 elevation. Here are two different photos. Thank you for any help you can give me.

Hi Jim,
We incorrectly identified these as Bee Flies, but you have set us straight.

Thank you so much for the compliment on the photos. I appreciate your time. At the same time I contacted you, I also went to a couple of other sites and found this identification: There seems to be a bit of difference between your ID and the ID on this site. I am not an entomologist but, rather, a hobby photographer who was curious about my find. Do you think the bugguide is on point? Again, thanks for taking the time and have a nice rest of the weekend.

Hi again Jim,
We will generally change our identifications if BugGuide, which is awesome, differs from us. If BugGuide believes these to be mating Small-Headed Flies in the Genus Eulonchus, we believe it.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

photos – Small Purple Headed Fly – Lasia Purpurata
I was tickled to run across your webpage today and see someone else took a photo of the Lasia Purpurata. I too photographed this bug last year. It was identified for me by Dr. Jeffrey Barnes at the University of Arkansas in June of 05. I have been looking ever since then for other photos, the first time I “Googled” this bug after learning it’s prpoer name, there were only four text pages with very scant information and no web photos at all. I have quite a few good pictures and also movie, here are three of my photos if you would like to add/ use them on your web page. I attached some of my correspondence from Dr. Barnes and a local nature center. Thank you,
Julie Lansdale
Collierville Tn

Thu, 23 Jun 2005
Hummer-bug photo
Here is the Hummer-bug photo we discussed by phone today. I appreciate any help you can provide in it’s identification. I was in the Mountain Home Ark area last Saturday when I took this photo. (Actually, I have several more photos at home and also a short movie clip in Quicktime if you want more, let me know) While it was gathering nectar I was able to get quite close. It moved front to back and side to side similar to a hummingbird but it’s body is only as big as a bumblebee. Hard to tell in this photo since I cropped and enlarged for a close-up.
Thanks for your help,
Julie Lansdale

What an exciting find! This is Lasia purpurata, a fly in the family Acroceridae. The larvae of this species are parasites of tarantulas. Adults, as you have observed, are nectar feeders. This is not a commonly observed insect. I wonder if you would be willing to email me, as an attachment, a high resolution copy (say 4X4 at 300 dpi) of this photo and permission to use it in our museum website and perhaps a future field guide to Arkansas insects?
Jeff Barnes
Dr. Jeffrey K. Barnes, Curator
The Arthropod Museum
Department of Entomology
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR

Hi Julie,
Thank you so much for sending your photos in to our site. They are stunning. Congratulations on taking such wonderful shots of a rarely seen species.

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What is this insect?
While taking pictures of “butterfly weed” I noticed an odd/unusual flying insect which appeared to me to be a cross between a hummingbird and beetle. It was hard shelled and perhaps about the size of a nickel or quarter. Clear colored wings, metallic/iridescence looking colors of black, blue and green, (depending on the light source perhaps), golden colored eyes, no antennas that I could see, six legs and a very long proboscis. I’ve searched my field guides and nothing comes close. What is this insect? I live in North Central Arkansas. Thank you,
Kay Biggerstaff

Hi Kay,
We thought this might be a Bee Fly, but has never seen anything like it. So … as we always do when in doubt, we turn to Eric Eaton. Here is his excited response: “Holy moly! What a proboscis! I am pretty sure this is a small-headed fly in the family Acroceridae. They are not terribly common. Larvae are internal parasites of spiders, but usually have to crawl around looking for a host after mom deposits her eggs in spider habitat. Trapdoor spiders are often the victims. I’d love to see this posted to BugGuide, as I believe it would be a whole new family for that site. I hate to ask that, everytime you send a cool image, but that is what BugGuide is for. The more diversity there, the more helpful it is to people wondering what their mystery bug is:-) I appreciate your indulgence in forwarding such requests to the submitters. Thank you. Eric” If they are so rare, it is great to see them perpetuating the species. So Kay, if you don’t mind, I would like to submit the image to BugGuide as well.

Update (06/01/2006)
Lasia purpurata Bequaert
Wow! This fly is quite rare in collections. It is Lasia purpurata Bequaert, which has been recorded from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Norm Woodley

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination