July 18, 2009
Hi, We have an artichoke that had flowered in a vase of water. Yesterday the blue filaments on the plant began to move. Then these bugs (flies?) began to emerge, some more mature than others. They’re 7/16″ long and have bright green eyes with a dark horizontal slit through the center. Any idea what they are? I found your wonderful site while trying to identify them. I’m sorry that I don’t have a better camera. Thank you.
San Francisco, Ca.
We quickly identified your fly as a Fruit Fly in the genus Neaspilota on BugGuide, but there was no relevant information on the information page. One series of photos from Orange County CA posted to BugGuide shows this Fruit Fly on thistle, and the poster of the photos indicates: “I saw this species last year, and it got me hooked on macrophotography. They burrow into thistle, and the one I saw last year apparently stayed in the same bloom for a couple of days. Face has sort of a mask appearance.” On that posting, Eric Eaton provided this comment: “Most fruit flies are pests, but a few species have been introduced to North America from elsewhere to battle invasive plants like….thistles! I can’t give you a genus, so am placing this in the family guide page for now. Nice work, and excellent documentation of the behavior!” The comment does not state where the fly was imported from, so we are going to try to research that bit of information. That search led us to a Neaspilota page with many of the BugGuide images by Ron Hemberger, that was part of our new favorite website, the Natural History of Orange County. We still did not have the information we desired, so we quested again. We found a page on the Life History of Neaspilota, but no clue as to its origin.
I never dreamed you would get back to me so fast! Thank you for the detailed report. This was a fun
experience. I like your site and I just sent you a little money. Doug
Update: May 22, 2011
We now believe this may be an introduced Fruit Fly that feeds on artichokes, Terellia fuscicornis, which is represented on BugGuide.