What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What is it?
Found by a friend in her garden in cygnet, AR Australia
Dee Stephen

Hi Dee,
We are relatively certain this is some species of Tachinid Fly, but sadly, we cannot find a species match on the awesome Geocities Tachinid Page. All Tachinid Flies have larvae that are internal parasites on insects, especially caterpillars, beetles, true bugs, grasshoppers and stick insects.

Update: November 29, 2010
A new set of images of this lovely Tachinid or Bristle Fly has allowed us to clean up this previous unidentified posting.

Update:  January 25, 2014
Some recent comments on this posting by John Morgan have caused us to question the possibility that this might NOT be
Amphibolia vidua.  The black markings on the white abdominal area on this fly appear to be different than the 2009 Bristle Fly posting we created and the 2010 Bristle Fly posting we created that we have identified as Amphibolia vidua.  Does this represent individual variation, a different subspecies, a different species or a completely different genus?  We cannot say for certain.  Perhaps an expert in Tachinid Flies will be able to sort this out.  We are still awaiting John Morgan’s photograph for comparison.

Update:  December 15, 2014
After an extensive exchange with Marlies, we are now relatively confident that this Tachinid is 
Formosia speciosa.  

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Australia

20 Responses to Australian Tachinid Fly appears to be Formosia speciosa

  1. Drhoz says:

    The CSIRO’s giant tomes “The Insects of Australia” has a colour plate with one of these – but gives it as Formosia speciosa. Annoyingly, I can find no other mention of the species or genus online :/

  2. John Morgan says:

    Hi guys
    We have just seen a specimen of above at Mt Wellington , Tasmania 22/01/14.
    We took photos for reference but other information is scant. We found an image of Amphibolia vidua by John Gardner taken at Oyster Bay 01/13 on Insects of Tasmania, but to my eyes, although similar, the markings are substantially different. I don’t think they’re the same. Maybe a subspecies?

    • bugman says:

      Tachinid Flies belong to a large and diverse family. It is possible that you saw a closely related species.

    • John Morgan says:

      Um, thanks for the glib reply ‘bugman’. I’m quite aware of the myriad possibilities. That wasn’t much help to a genuine enquiry. To reiterate, the fly we snapped is IDENTICAL to Dee Stephens. photo. The specimen photographed by John Gardner AND LISTED as A.vidula has similar but definitely DIFFERENT markings.
      Therefore , either John’s specimen has been mislabeled, or Dee’s & OUR specimen is NOT A.vidula. Obviously it’s likely to be a related species so, what is it? Any Entymologists around?

      • bugman says:

        Dear John,
        It was never out intention to be glib. We are not entomologists and we were pointing out the fact that the taxonomy of Tachinid Flies is challenging. You did not provide a photo with your inquiry nor did you provide us with any links to look at photographs you were citing on the web. The only question you posed in your original comment was: “Maybe a subspecies?” That would require far more speculation on our part than we are willing to provide given the lack of imagery involved in the request. We cannot even say for certain if the three individuals which we have “identified” as Amphibolia vidua in our archive are actually correctly identified. You have noticed the dearth of available information online on the species. If you are noticing differences, we felt it was possible that you saw a closely related species, perhaps in the same genus, so that is how we responded. Several years after we created the posting you commented upon, we received another similar looking Bristle Fly, and we eventually learned in December 2009 that it was identified as Amphibolia vidua because the person who sent the photo had it verified by Csiro. We are now questioning the identification of Dee Stephen’s 2007 submission as the black markings on the white abdominal area appear to be different from Nick’s 2009 submission in our archives, the Oyster Cove sighting, and a 2010 sighting from our archives.
        We cannot say for certain if this is individual variation, the result of different camera angles, of just plain misidentification on our part. This will need to be sorted out by an expert in the taxonomy of Tachinid Flies.
        P.S. We still haven’t seen your photo. Should you care to submit it, please use our standard form by clicking the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site.

  3. Marlies Bugmann says:

    Hello Drhoz

    Here is a link to Formosia Speciosa – that, and Amphibolia Vidua both occur in Australia, and both in Tasmania. The one I photographed is Amphibolia Vidua (2 dots on white strip on abdomen); Formosia Speciosa has 1 dot on the white strip, with a couple of extensions from its white band towards its ‘tail’, and its eyes are closer together.
    I have posted my photo here a little earlier, but being all new here, only got here because I was looking to identify ‘my’ fly, I don’t know where it would have ended up.

  4. Marlies Bugmann says:

    …and the link to Formosia Speciosa is … http://biocache.ala.org.au/occurrences/1f1319a4-d231-4b1c-acf2-86627aff3fb9;jsessionid=9203058C513D7BAD7223F7123AD42FA6

    Sorry for leaving it out in the first reply


  5. Marlies Bugmann says:

    Hi there – 🙂 well … ‘Marlies’ is a Dutch name, that’s how my father named me, but ‘Bugmann’ is a Swiss name. The lady who submitted the mantis post is not me, she is Dutch.

    My post – an identification request – was titled ‘Bristle Fly / Tachinid Fly / Amphibolia vidua?’ and read:
    Hello – On Tuesday, 9 Dec 2014, my husband photographed this blowfly sitting above the headlight of our car. It took me several days to get to here, to see similar photos of this fly. Has anyone definitely identified it yet? Gosh …

    (that was before I found out what I know now).

    And I sent the photo with it (I would send it again, but I cannot see an upload to this response window). Your auto responder sent me a reply, it also sent me a reply to my second post, which read thus:
    Dear Sirs – I think this http://biocache.ala.org.au/occurrences/1f1319a4-d231-4b1c-acf2-86627aff3fb9;jsessionid=9203058C513D7BAD7223F7123AD42FA6 could also be relevant to identifying that ‘Bristle Fly’ or otherwise – the Formosia Speciosa.

    I do apologise if I confuse everyone, the cyber world confuses me at times.

    Anyway, what I’ve been able to ‘snoop and deduce’ is that Amphibolia vidua has 2 black dots on the white band [and even if they join, they still are identifyable as 2], and Formosia Specia has one black dot on the white band, with 2 white extensions towards the fly’s tail. Their eyes are set differently, too. Both occur in Tasmania, and Australian mainland.

    cheers from down under
    Marlies Bugmann

    • bugman says:

      We cannot locate any submissions from December 9, 2014 that match your description. Must have fallen into a cyber black hole.

  6. Marlies Bugmann says:

    I just thought of this – I’ve put it on facebook, too, and all of the data I found over the past couple of days researching it … https://www.facebook.com/tasmanianartist/photos/a.10154934951460015.1073741869.204763860014/10154928182185015/?type=3&theater


  7. Marlies Bugmann says:

    You’re welcome. Would you like me to reupload the ‘request for ID’ picture? Or would you be happy to lift it from the facebook album? I don’t mind either way. This photo, which my husband took (he gives permission to use – and for copyright completeness I should really state his name, David Irwin), shows great detail in the face of the fly. I have several images, as the fly stayed put, no matter how close we came. Though we couldn’t get too close, because on that occasion, he had the large 600mm zoom mounted and needed to get a few metres away for it to focus. It also had a very deep hum when it eventually flew off (when I went to compare size to my thumb). However, the one posted on fb (and vanised here) is the clearest. Handholding a heavy zoom lense is difficult.

    • bugman says:

      Since we cannot locate your original submission, please resubmit images using our standard form which may be accessed by clicking the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site. Please include any information you would like to appear with the image as people might not refer to the extensive comments you made on a distinctly different posting. Please include a clear subject line like “Tachinid Fly from Australia” or something similar to get our attention.

  8. Marlies Bugmann says:

    PS – the photo was taken on the 9th, the submission was on the 12th. cheers – Marlies

  9. Marlies Bugmann says:

    Hello – doing so at present. Hope it goes through this time – have taken a screen shot of the submit window, just in case.

  10. Marlies Bugmann says:

    I just did, and your auto responder has sent me an email to confirm that it got there.
    Best wishes

  11. Marlies Bugmann says:

    OH, MY … I’ve written ‘size of a human thumb – of course it is not – it is approximately the size of a human THUMB NAIL … feet and wingtips probably protruding a little further. But it is not the size of a human ‘thumb’. With all this back and forth, I’ve outsmarted myself and this typo sneaked in – would you please correct it? Thanks.


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