Subject: What’s This Fly on Cilantro Blooms?
Location: Hawthorne, CA
January 10, 2014 3:38 pm
We wish you and yours a happy, healthy New Year filled with love. I was out in the back today and noticed this fly on the cilantro blooms. Can you help with identification? It’s most likely very common, but boy is it ugly!
Also, we still have one lonely Monarch Butterfly caterpillar chomping away on the Mexican Milkweed. We haven’t been able to locate any chrysalides this cycle, but are sure they’re out there somewhere!
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon
Happy New Year to you as well Anna. We are still awaiting the sprouting of those cosmos seeds. The conditions of our northern exposure garden often result in delays in seed sprouting. This really looks like a Tachinid Fly to us, and we will attempt to locate a matching photo on BugGuide tomorrow. Tachinid Flies in the family Tachinidae are important natural biological control agents, because according to BugGuide: “larvae parasitize insects (and a few other arthropods, incl. millipedes, spiders, scorpions); adults may take nectar” and caterpillars are one of the primary hosts. You might have photographed the reason you have noticed fewer Monarch Caterpillars this year.
Somehow I remember you telling me that you did have some sprouting of the cosmos seeds. I thought it was rather odd as they don’t usually surface until spring. We hope you have success with them!
I think your identification of this as a Tachinid fly is correct, but it’s different from the ones we’ve seen in past. I also want to let you know that a Monarch chrysalis has been spotted! I know it wasn’t there when I closed up the shed mid-afternoon yesterday and surely would have spotted the caterpillar crawling up the side of it were that happening while I was there. The chrysalis is a good 12 feet away from any milkweed plant, and is about 6′ high on the front of the shed, just above the door. Such an exposed area! We’ve also had paper wasps building nests nearby in the past, so will have to keep a good eye out for them and try to discourage that activity for a while.
Thanks for the update Anna.