Small Headed Fly: Essential Facts Made Simple

Small headed flies, often referred to as phorid flies or scuttle flies, are fascinating creatures that can make their appearance in various environments. They are tiny insects, typically ranging from 1/64 – 1/4″ in size, and are known for their distinct humpbacked appearance NC State Extension Publications. These flies breed in moist, decaying organic matter, making them abundant in urban settings and sometimes leading them to be referred to as “coffin flies.”

As you delve deeper into the world of small headed flies, you’ll learn about their diverse species and their role in the ecosystem. Many of these flies, such as the hover flies, Syrphid flies, or flower flies, are important natural enemies of aphids and other small insects Wisconsin Horticulture. They are known for their resemblance to bees or wasps and their hovering behavior over flowers. Understanding these tiny creatures will not only satisfy your curiosity but provide valuable insight into their ecological importance.

So, let’s embark on this journey of discovering the peculiar small headed flies together. From their unique features and characteristics to their vital role in nature, you’ll become well-versed in everything there is to know about these fascinating insects.

Discovering the Small Headed Fly

Don’t let the name deceive you; the small-headed fly, belonging to the Acroceridae family, is a fascinating insect worth your attention. Let’s dive into its world to know more!

Appearance

Small-headed flies come in various shapes and colors, making them a diverse group. Their size can range from 0.4 to 6mm, with some species being commonly referred to as humpbacked or coffin flies. Check out these images to get a better idea of their appearance.

Genus and Species

With more than 3500 species worldwide, the small-headed fly comes from a diverse family. They belong to 68 genera, with each genus having its unique characteristics. Some examples of genera are Ogcodes, Pterodontia, and Philopota.

Life Cycle and Habitat

While you may not have realized, small-headed flies are all around you. Their larvae typically consume moist, decaying organic matter found in urban environments, leading some to call them scuttle or hump-backed flies. Keep an eye out for them near your home or garden!

To sum up, you now know some essential facts about the small-headed fly. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors with over 68 genera under the Acroceridae family. Look closely at your surroundings, and you might just spot one of these fascinating insects!

Anatomy and Adaptations

Small Headed Flies are fascinating insects with unique features that help them survive in various environments. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at their anatomy and how they adapt to different conditions.

Their proboscis is quite remarkable. This long, flexible mouthpart allows them to reach nectar in flowers or feed on other insects with ease. It also comes in handy when navigating tight spaces for hiding or hunting.

Being small in size, these flies have a few advantages. Smaller bodies mean less energy is needed to stay airborne, making their flight more efficient. This also allows them to access spaces that larger insects might not be able to reach.

  • Pros: efficient, can access small spaces
  • Cons: more vulnerable to predators

Adapting to changes in their environment, Small Headed Flies are sensitive to light and temperature. By being able to sense these fluctuations, they can adjust their behavior to find suitable habitats and avoid harsh conditions.

Here’s a comparison table highlighting some differences between Small Headed Flies and larger insects:

Characteristics Small Headed Flies Larger Insects
Size Small Large
Energy Efficiency High Low
Access to Spaces Can fit into tight spaces Limited access to small spaces
Predation More vulnerable Less vulnerable

In conclusion, Small Headed Flies have several intriguing anatomical traits and adaptations that help them thrive in their environment. From their efficient flight abilities to their sensitivity to light and temperature, they have numerous features that make them effective little creatures.

Lifecycle of the Small Headed Fly

The lifecycle of the Small Headed Fly is fascinating and relatively simple to understand. In this section, we’ll cover the main stages of their development.

Eggs: The first stage of the Small Headed Fly’s life begins with the female laying eggs. These eggs are typically laid in moist environments, allowing the larvae to access their food source more easily upon hatching.

Larvae: Next, the eggs hatch into the larval stage. During this time, the larvae feed on various organic materials such as decaying leaves or other insects. Here are some characteristics of the larvae:

  • They’re usually white or cream-colored
  • They grow and molt multiple times during this stage

Pupa: After the larvae have feasted and grown, they enter the pupal stage. In this stage, they form a protective casing around their body called a puparium. This period allows the insect to undergo significant transformations and prepare for adulthood. You’ll typically notice these pupae in hidden or protected areas like soil or leaf litter.

Adult: Once the transformation in the pupal stage is complete, the Small Headed Fly emerges as an adult. The adult flies have functional wings, allowing them to move around and search for mates. After mating, the females will lay new eggs, and the life cycle begins anew.

As a friendly reminder, it’s essential to avoid making exaggerated or false claims about their behavior or characteristics. You can always consult reliable sources for accurate and up-to-date information about the Small Headed Fly and its fascinating life cycle.

Distribution and Habitat

The Small Headed Fly, also known as the Phorid Fly, can be found in various regions worldwide. They thrive in diverse locations and habitats, which makes them quite adaptable to different environments.

These flies are commonly found near rivers and other water sources, as the currents help disperse their eggs. Additionally, their larvae may develop in moist and damp areas, making these locations perfect for their reproduction.

When it comes to weather, Small Headed Flies can tolerate cold conditions to some extent. However, they tend to be more active during warmer seasons, when there’s an abundance of rotting organic matter for them to feed on.

To sum up:

  • Small Headed Flies are widely distributed across different regions.
  • They are typically found near rivers and moist habitats.
  • These flies can handle cold weather but prefer warmer conditions for feeding and reproduction.

Remember to keep an eye out for these tiny insects, especially in areas with consistent moisture and decaying organic matter. By understanding their distribution and habitat preferences, you can better manage their presence in your surroundings.

Behavior and Habits

The Small Headed Fly is an interesting creature that exhibits unique behaviors and habits. Let’s get to know more about this fascinating insect.

Nocturnal Activity

You may have a higher chance of encountering Small Headed Flies during the night, as they are primarily nocturnal. This means they sleep during the day and become active when the sun sets. Their nocturnal lifestyle helps them avoid predators and makes it easier for them to find food.

Flight Patterns

When it comes to flying, the Small Headed Fly exhibits an erratic and swift flight pattern. They have been observed zipping around in all sorts of directions. As they move quickly, it may be challenging to initially spot them. An example of their agile flying is often observed while they search for food sources or evade potential threats.

Temperature Sensitivity

The behavior of the Small Headed Fly is also influenced by temperature. Here’s some information about their preference:

  • They thrive in warmer climates
  • Activity levels increase with rising temperatures
  • Cooler temperatures may cause a reduction in their activity

In summary, the Small Headed Fly is a quick flyer that prefers the night and warmer temperatures. Their nocturnal nature and erratic flight patterns make them an interesting insect worth getting to know better.

Small Headed Fly and Ecosystem

Small headed flies, also known as Phoridae, are a family of insects that play various roles in the ecosystem. They interact with other organisms, including birds, eagles, insects, and plants, which make them an essential part of nature.

Some of their interactions can be beneficial for the ecosystem:

  • Pollination: Just like bees, small headed flies also serve as pollinators. They visit flowers, aiding in the pollination process and helping plants reproduce.
  • Natural pest control: Small headed flies are known to feed on various insect pests like aphids. As a result, they help control the population of harmful insects, reducing the need for harmful pesticides.

However, there are some negative aspects to their presence:

  • Decomposers: Some species of small headed flies feed on decaying organic matter, including fungi and dead animals. While decomposition is a natural process, it can sometimes result in unpleasant smells and attract other unwanted insects.
  • Parasitic behavior: Some small headed flies are known to be parasitic to other insects, potentially impacting other beneficial species.

Here’s a table to sum up the key points of their role in the ecosystem:

Small Headed Fly Roles Example Positive/Negative Effect
Pollination Flower visit Positive
Natural pest control Feeding on aphids Positive
Decomposition Feeding on dead animals Mixed (positive & negative)
Parasitic behavior Parasitizing other insects Negative

It’s essential to understand that small headed flies are a diverse group made up of more than 3,500 species worldwide. Consequently, their impact on the ecosystem can vary greatly depending on the species. By learning more about small headed flies, you can better appreciate their role in maintaining nature’s balance.

Interaction with Humans

Small Headed Flies are tiny insects that can occasionally interact with humans. In this section, we will explore some aspects of these interactions, focusing on their impact as pests and their potential to bite or sting humans.

Some species of Small Headed Flies might not pose a significant risk to humans. However, there are instances where they might become a nuisance, especially when they breed in large numbers. In such cases, you may find them hovering around your home, attracted to decomposing organic matter.

Although infestations of Small Headed Flies are generally rare, they can become an issue if left unchecked. To prevent their population from growing, it is essential to control their breeding grounds, such as keeping your surroundings clean and eliminating potential breeding sites like piles of compost or decaying plant material.

Small Headed Flies are not known for their biting or stinging capabilities. Generally, they do not exhibit aggressive behavior towards humans, but as with any insect, individual reactions may vary.

To summarize, while Small Headed Flies are not typically considered a significant threat to humans, they can become pests if their population is left unchecked. It is essential to maintain a clean environment and eliminate potential breeding grounds to minimize the chances of an infestation.

Role in Pollination

Pollination is essential for the reproduction and survival of plants on our planet. Small headed flies, or Megaselia scalaris, play an essential role in this process. As pollinators, they help the plants to reproduce by transferring pollen from one flower to another.

When you observe the small headed fly, you might notice a peculiar behavior known as “scuttling.” This means that they run rapidly across surfaces like flowers or leaves and pick up pollen along the way. This behavior actually aids in the pollination process.

These flies are incredibly adaptable and can thrive in various habitats, which makes them valuable pollinators. Here are some notable characteristics:

  • Small size (0.4 – 6 mm)
  • Fast movement (scuttling)
  • Adaptable to different environments

Though small headed flies may not typically have the same level of fame as other pollinators like bees and butterflies, they are still of great importance. By assisting in the plant reproduction process, these flies contribute to the diversity and health of our ecosystems.

So, the next time you spot a small headed fly, be sure to acknowledge its significant role in the world of pollination, and appreciate the vital part it plays in maintaining the balance of nature.

Predators of the Small Headed Fly

As a friendly reminder, here’s information on predators of the small headed fly. They’re not the only ones in nature’s food chain, and various creatures consider them a tasty meal.

Birds: One of their main predators are birds. Aerial hunters like swallows and flycatchers catch small headed flies mid-flight, while others like robins and sparrows snatch them off leaves and branches.

Spiders: These arachnids are another major group preying on small headed flies. Orb-weaving spiders craft intricate webs to trap the insects, while jumping spiders actively hunt and ambush their prey.

Beetles: Certain beetles, such as rove and ground beetles, are known to feed on small headed flies. These insects are versatile in their hunting methods, attacking them on foliage or sometimes capturing them mid-air.

Here are some key characteristics of these predators in bullet points:

  • Birds: variety of species, aerial hunters
  • Spiders: create webs or actively hunt
  • Beetles: versatile in hunting methods

Knowing your enemy is essential to understanding the world around you. Just like you, these predators play an important role in the ecosystem, maintaining a balance by limiting small headed fly populations.

Types of Flies

When it comes to small-headed flies, you may not be aware that there are several types within the Order Diptera. In this section, we will briefly cover some of the main varieties.

One common type of fly you may encounter is the deer fly, which is known for its painful bite. They are slightly larger than house flies and have a characteristic pattern on their wings. But there’s more to Order Diptera:

*Another interesting family is Acroceridae. These peculiar flies have extremely small heads compared to their bodies, hence the name “small-headed flies.” They are typically parasites of spiders and are sometimes called “spider flies.”

Now let’s compare these types:

Type of Fly Key Features
Deer Fly Larger than house flies, painful bite, patterned wings
Acroceridae (Small-headed Fly) Small head, parasitic on spiders, called “spider flies”

As you explore the world of flies, remember that these are just a few examples within the vast Order Diptera. Many different species and families can be found, each with their unique characteristics and behaviors. So next time you come across a small-headed fly, take a closer look and appreciate the diversity of these fascinating creatures.

Research and Studies on Small Headed Fly

In recent years, the small headed fly has caught the attention of researchers and bug enthusiasts alike. A notable source for information on this intriguing insect is BugGuide, which provides a comprehensive database on various bug species, including the small headed fly. Delving into the design characteristics of this insect can help us better understand its behavior and ecological significance.

When looking at the small headed fly, you’ll notice its distinct physical traits:

  • Small body size
  • Narrower head compared to its body
  • Unique wing venation patterns
  • Short antennae

These features play a crucial role in the fly’s daily activities, such as feeding, mating, and navigating its habitat. Researchers have conducted studies to better understand the various aspects of the small headed fly’s biology, including:

  • Life cycle and reproduction
  • Prey preferences and feeding habits
  • Preferred habitats
  • Role in ecosystem dynamics

By examining these aspects, scientists can grasp the importance of the small headed fly within the ecological balance.

A comparative analysis of the small headed fly with other insect species reveals unique traits that set it apart. Here’s a comparison table featuring essential characteristics:

Small Headed Fly House Fly Fruit Fly
Body Size Small Medium Small
Preferred Habitat Diverse Urban areas Fruit-rich areas
Economic Impact Limited Pest Pest

In conclusion, the small headed fly is an intriguing insect with particular design features that differentiate it from other fly species. Research and studies continue to uncover fascinating insights into its biology, reproduction, feeding habits, and ecological role. Stay curious and continue exploring the fantastic world of insects!

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Rare Sighting: Purple Small Headed Fly

 

Subject: Unknown fling ?
Location: Winona area of Arkansas
June 8, 2015 8:03 am
We came across this feeding on butterfly weed and cannot identify. Can you help us.
Signature: Lon and Annie

Small Headed Fly
Purple Small Headed Fly

Dear Lon and Annie,
This is a very exciting posting for us.  Though it appears green, this is is known as a Purple Small Headed Fly,
Lasia purpurata, and it is only the third submission we have received of this species since we went online in the late 1990s, and the last submission was nine years ago.  All three submissions of Purple Small Headed Flies are nectaring on the same blossoms and all are from Arkansas.  Of the 2006 sighting by Julie Lansdale, Dr. Jeffrey K. Barnes, Curator of The Arthropod Museum in the Department of Entomology of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville wrote:  “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.”  There is also an image posted to the Arthropod Museum website where it states:  “In 1933, Harvard University entomologist Joseph Bequaert described Lasia purpurata from a large, pilose, metallic blue fly with strong purple reflections that was collected in Oklahoma. Adults are often found feeding on nectar with their long proboscides inserted in flowers of butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa. This species is now known to occur also in Arkansas and Texas. While little is known of the biology of this particular species, we do have some understanding of general family biology. Larvae of all biologically known species are internal parasitoids of spiders. Large numbers of eggs are deposited in the vicinity of host spiders. Most species have planidium-like first instar larvae, that is to say they are strongly sclerotized and have spine-like locomotory processes. These young larvae are capable of crawling and jumping in search of spider hosts. Upon finding hosts they burrow though the integument and migrate to the spiders’ book lungs, where they can breathe outside air as they remain in diapause for several months to several years. Larvae of the subfamily Panopinae, to which Lasia belongs, have long second stadia and 4-5 day third stadia. In 1958, William Baerg, retired head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Arkansas and world renowned tarantula expert, reported that acrocerid flies, probably Lasia purpurata, sometimes attack Arkansas tarantulas. Female tarantulas produced 4-6 of these dipterous parasites. The parasites emerged from the tarantulas’ book lungs as larvae, and the tarantulas soon died. At Pea Ridge, most tarantulas appeared to be infested. The parasites emerged from mid April to mid May.”

Small Headed Fly
Small Headed Fly

Thank you for this information. we were stumped. My Granddaughter, Annie, age 12, and I, age 74, are very excited that this is only the third submission you have received for the Purple Small Headed Fly. Please keep up the good work that you do. This is the best use of the social media we are surrounded with today.
God bless you.
Lon Freeman

That is very kind of you to say Lon.  Back in the late 1990s when we were approached to write a column for the now defunct American Homebody, we defended our decision to write a column on insect identification because we maintained that “Everybody wants to know ‘What’s That Bug?'” but we never dreamed how accurate that statement would actually prove to be.  We really do have a strong network of regular readers and contributors.  We are very envious at your sighting of the Purple Small Headed Fly because they are apparently quite rare.

Small Headed Fly
Small Headed Fly

Letter 2 – Rare Sighting: Purple Small Headed Fly posted to Arkansas Facebook group

 

Subject:  Rare Hummingbird beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Arkansas
Date: 06/19/2021
Time: 10:31 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this video on local Arkansas Facebook group with small shiny flying green beetle like humming bird getting nectar. Can you identify? Have video but to big to post.
How you want your letter signed:  ?

Purple Small Headed Fly

Dear ?,
We are very thrilled to have received your query with a Facebook image of
Lasia purpurata, a Small Headed Fly in the family Acroceridae.  This is the fourth submission of this species we have received, the first being in 2005 and that sighting of this rare species with a limited range caused quite a stir.  We have always been amused that this species, which always appears and is described as being green, is commonly called the Purple Small Headed Fly.  That common name is used on the Arthropod Museum where it states:  “In 1933, Harvard University entomologist Joseph Bequaert described Lasia purpurata from a large, pilose, metallic blue fly with strong purple reflections that was collected in Oklahoma. Adults are often found feeding on nectar with their long proboscides inserted in flowers of butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa. This species is now known to occur also in Arkansas and Texas. While little is known of the biology of this particular species, we do have some understanding of general family biology. Larvae of all biologically known species are internal parasitoids of spiders. Large numbers of eggs are deposited in the vicinity of host spiders. Most species have planidium-like first instar larvae, that is to say they are strongly sclerotized and have spine-like locomotory processes. These young larvae are capable of crawling and jumping in search of spider hosts. Upon finding hosts they burrow though the integument and migrate to the spiders’ book lungs, where they can breathe outside air as they remain in diapause for several months to several years. Larvae of the subfamily Panopinae, to which Lasia belongs, have long second stadia and 4-5 day third stadia. In 1958, William Baerg, retired head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Arkansas and world renowned tarantula expert, reported that acrocerid flies, probably Lasia purpurata, sometimes attack Arkansas tarantulas. Female tarantulas produced 4-6 of these dipterous parasites. The parasites emerged from the tarantulas’ book lungs as larvae, and the tarantulas soon died. At Pea Ridge, most tarantulas appeared to be infested. The parasites emerged from mid April to mid May.”

Thank you! Yea a little after sending this email someone found the bug on your site. Cool little find!
Jason

Letter 3 – Small Headed Fly

 

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.
Eric

Letter 4 – Small Headed Fly

 

Subject: A gold and black insect
Location: Tahuya state forest, WA
July 16, 2016 3:08 pm
Hi! I found this insect in the Tahuya forest on the Tahuya river while camping earlier this year, and I can’t seem to identify it. This was in Washington state in early summer (June 16th to be precise), and I snapped the photo myself. I will continue searching, but if you could tell me what this is, that would be awesome! Many thanks!
Signature: Leo the Inquisitive

Small Headed Fly
Small Headed Fly

Dear Leo the Inquisitive,
This is a Small Headed Fly in the genus
Eulonchus, and based on images posted to BugGuide, we believe it is most likely Eulonchus sapphirinus.  The genus is described on BugGuide as:  “Proboscis well-developed, at rest held below body and extending to mid-thorax or well beyond, depending on species. Antennae inserted near middle of head, with eyes contiguous both above and below antennae.” 

Letter 5 – Small Headed Fly

 

Subject: Flybee?
Location: Southern New Hampshire
July 30, 2017 12:53 am
Location: southern New, Hampshire USA
I’d just like to know what this is.
Signature: K. Stone

Small Headed Fly

Dear K. Stone,
This unusual creature is a Small Headed Fly in the family Acroceridae, possibly
Turbopsebius sulphuripes which is pictured on BugGuide.  Of the entire family, BugGuide notes:  “Humpbacked flies with thorax and abdomen balloon-like; small heads with holoptic eyes (covering most of the head); and large, conspicuous calypters (membranous disk-like structures) tucked-in at the base of the wings. Many species mimic bees/wasps or even beetles.”  The complex life cycle is described on BugGuide as:  “The first instar larva (‘planidium’) seeks out spiders. When a spider contacts a planidium, the larva grabs hold of the spider, crawls up the spider’s legs to its body, and forces its way through the body wall, often lodging near the book lung, where it may remain for years before completing its development.
Adult longevity is usually rather short (3 days to ~1 month). Mating usually takes place in flight; female begin to lay up to 5000 eggs soon after mating and may continue during the following 2-10 days. The tiny, pear-shaped, black, microtype eggs are deposited either in flight upon the ground (Eulonchus), upon dead branches (Ogcodes), upon tree trunks (Pterodontia), or upon grass stems (Acrocera). Eggs hatch in 3-6 weeks giving rise to small planidial larvae. Most 1st instar planidia must seek out their spider hosts and can crawl or jump with ‘inchworm-like’ movements. There is only one generation per year with the acrocerines (Acrocera, Ogcodes, Turbopsebius) on their araneomorph hosts; but many panopines (Eulonchus, Lasia, Ocnaea, Pterodontia) seem to have only one generation every 5-10 years due to the longer immature stages of their mygalomorph hosts.”

Letter 6 – Small Headed Fly: Lasia purpurata Bequaert

 

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

Letter 7 – Small Headed Fly, we believe

 

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
Daniel:
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.
Eric

Letter 8 – Small Purple Headed Fly

 

photos – Small Purple Headed Fly – Lasia Purpurata
Hello,
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
Hi,
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

Julie,
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?
Thanks,
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.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

6 thoughts on “Small Headed Fly: Essential Facts Made Simple”

  1. I saw this same kind of beautiful creature hovering around flowers in my mother’s garden in Mayflower, Arkansas 72106 last week (June 2013). We were both amazed. She’s 79 years old, has lived in AR all her life and been an avid gardener, and NEVER seen such an insect.

    I didn’t have a camera, but I took a close look. It looked like a cross between a June bug and a hummingbird.

    Thanks for sharing this image. I would have wondered about this creature for the rest of my life! Gorgeous.

    Reply
  2. I saw this same kind of beautiful creature hovering around flowers in my mother’s garden in Mayflower, Arkansas 72106 last week (June 2013). We were both amazed. She’s 79 years old, has lived in AR all her life and been an avid gardener, and NEVER seen such an insect.

    I didn’t have a camera, but I took a close look. It looked like a cross between a June bug and a hummingbird.

    Thanks for sharing this image. I would have wondered about this creature for the rest of my life! Gorgeous.

    Reply
  3. Would a Lasia Purpurata (perhaps) in Arkansas have B shaped wings translucent& veined with one b much larger than the other? Reflective dark metallic blue, elephant-like trunk, B shaped wings? I thought it was a beetle or weevil it was so lazy & crawled & stood still mostly just flying short distances. Hardly energetic enough for a fly, perhaps it was dying. It didn’t seem to care about me being a foot away from it snapping pictures(I’ve never seen anything so odd, and I thought I knew a little about what’s outside in Arkansas). This ‘lasia purpurata’ is the closest thing I’ve found to what I saw & unfortunately the phone the pictures were on was stolen. I will attempt to spot another someday. I just seriously am having issues with the odd details missing, the small headed fly is nothing special to me, it was the intricate shape & design of the wings I was interested in perhaps someone can help? 😉

    -Ry

    Reply
  4. Would a Lasia Purpurata (perhaps) in Arkansas have B shaped wings translucent& veined with one b much larger than the other? Reflective dark metallic blue, elephant-like trunk, B shaped wings? I thought it was a beetle or weevil it was so lazy & crawled & stood still mostly just flying short distances. Hardly energetic enough for a fly, perhaps it was dying. It didn’t seem to care about me being a foot away from it snapping pictures(I’ve never seen anything so odd, and I thought I knew a little about what’s outside in Arkansas). This ‘lasia purpurata’ is the closest thing I’ve found to what I saw & unfortunately the phone the pictures were on was stolen. I will attempt to spot another someday. I just seriously am having issues with the odd details missing, the small headed fly is nothing special to me, it was the intricate shape & design of the wings I was interested in perhaps someone can help? 😉

    -Ry

    Reply

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