Subject: Corn Tassel Fly
August 4, 2014 8:58 pm
I have a picture of said insect (That is what we in Indiana call them too…corn fly or corn tassel fly) and would like to contribute to your information.
Signature: Chawn Essary

What species of Syrphid???

What species of Syrphid???

please use the Ask What’s That Bug? link on our site and use Corn Tassel Fly as the subject line.

I have tried 3 times to submit that way and it just keep processing and never finishes? (the little arrow went around so much, I think I got dizzy! LOL)
So, here you go “Bug Man”!!
Thanks for your awesome site!
Best Regards,

Hover Fly

Hover Fly is Toxomerus politus

Hi Chawn,
Though your images are enormous, our email program should have handled 12M worth of attachments.  Perhaps your internet connection was slow.  Do you generally have problem emailing such large attachments?  More that ten years ago, we received an identification request from Illinois with no images that described a Corn-Tossle Fly, and based on the description, we decided it was a Flower Fly, also called a Hover Fly, from the family Syrphidae.  The common name Flower Fly refers to their pollinating behavior and the name Hover Fly refers to their ability to fly in place.  Your images confirm that identification.  Interestingly, we cannot find any other references to that name, but we must confess we only did a quick and superficial search for the term.  Flies in the family Syrphidae are highly beneficial.  The adults help to pollinate plants and the larvae feed on garden pests including aphids.  Alas, we could not locate an exact match to your Corn Tassle Fly on BugGuide, however, we suspect that based on its physical appearance, your individual is in the subfamily Syrphinae, and perhaps you will have better luck navigating BugGuide to a species identification than we had.  It is also worth noting that many flies in the family Syrphidae mimic bees or wasps, and since the Hover Flies are perfectly harmless, this affords them some protection.  We have greatly enlarged the Hover Fly and cropped tightly in the hope that one of our readers will be able to identify the species, or at least the genus for us.

Hover Fly

Hover Fly hovering

Update:  August 17, 2014
Thanks to Kevin Moran who wrote in identifying the Corn Tassle Fly as 
Toxomerus politus which we located on BugGuide, though the common name is not indicated.  Kevin also provided a link to this pdf  that provides this information:  “The larvae of Toxomerus politus (Say, 1823) also known as ‘the corn-feeding syrphid fly’, feed on pollen and sap from the saccharine cells of corn (Zea mays L.) (Marín A.1969; Smith 1974)”

Location: Indiana

15 Responses to Corn Tassle Fly is actually Hover Fly, but which species????? Toxomerus politus

  1. Kevin Moran says:

    This looks to be Toxomerus politus.

    Although I can’t find any articles, if my memory serves me right the common name of this fly is indeed the corn fly or corn tassel fly. It got this name from Native American religious leaders who knew to associate the fly with a good corn harvest. When they saw this fly, they would then tell their followers that the gods had told them that they would be blessed with an abundant corn harvest.

    The reason for this association is that this fly likes to breed on aphid colonies that live on corn ears and tassels. Thus when corn was in abundance there were many aphids and in turn many of these flies.

  2. Kevin Moran says:

    So a correction. It seems the fly is feeding on corn pollen and not the aphids. There is a reference to them feeding on aphids but it is considered doubtful. I can’t find anything to back up the story but I’ll keep looking. Here is a link to a pdf that compiles some references about the fly and notes its association with corn.

  3. Linda says:

    Do corn tassel flies bite or sting? I say yes. A friend says no.

  4. Tracy Gonz says:

    How do you get rid of corn flies

    • George N. newton says:

      How to go outside and not be aggravated by the tassel flies. Are they something to put on ( smell ) that will keep them away. Any thing????

  5. Linda says:

    What can I use on myself to make tassell flies stay away from me they worry me to death when I go outside!!!

  6. Linda says:

    We call these “sweat bees” in deep southern Illinois. They are very irritating when trying to sit outside. And, in my experience, they DO bite or sting. It leaves a welt that is painful and itchy. The more you scratch it, the worse it hurts. I hate them!

  7. Mitchell & donna Johnson says:

    Bugman,You know what, I have watched them and they will eventually sting or bite, might take a while but they will,,as for the wasp comment, most of us KNOW when we are wasp stung, we are not dumbasses as you seem to imply.

  8. Tammy says:

    I live in Southern Illinois and these corn flies DO bite oh, there are welts all over my legs right now from them. There is a huge corn crop right across the street in our rural area where we live and trust me, they do bite me everyday.

  9. M.D. Archer says:

    I have been “bugged by Corn Flies” for 40 years..Every time we raise corn close to the house here they come. The drier the weather the worse they are. I HAVE NEVER BEEN Bit or stung from once of these little pesky guys.

    They are a real PIA but I would appreciate a tip on a repellent.

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