Currently viewing the category: "Flies"
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Garden Guest
Location:  Northern VA, USA
October 3, 2010 8:07 pm
All summer long, I see little tiny flies like this in the garden. Are they good guys?
Signature:  Patty in VA

Longlegged Fly

Dear Patty,
This is a Longlegged Fly in the family Dolichopodidae.  According to BugGuide:  “Mouthparts are for piercing (with a short proboscis). Adults and larvae are predaceous on small insects. Although immatures of some species mine stems of grasses and other plants or live under bark of trees. Not much is known about larval feeding habits although some species are known to be predaceous.
”  They are good guys or at the very least benign guys.

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Are these Crane Flies?

Insect Collection

Are these Crane Flies?
Location:  Wilmington, Delaware
October 3, 2010 12:53 pm
We are doing a bug project in fith grade. My school is The Independence School in Delaware. I’ve been collecting insects in the past 4 months. I have these 3 flies that look almost the same. I know the one at the right bottom is a Crane Fly. The other two I could not identify in the bug guide. The top one has 1 pair of wings and the abdomen/tail ends with a bulb. The bottom left fly has two pairs of wings and a skiny abdomen. The eyes are bigger and it looks more like a Dragonfly or a Damselfly, but the legs are very long. Can you please help me? Thanks
Signature:  Austin


Dear Austin,
First we want to congratulate you on doing your research well for your science project.  We will respond to the easier of your two queries first.  The Crane Fly with the bulb shaped abdomen is actually a male.  Females have pointier abdomens.  An excellent resource for information on Crane Flies is the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania website.  The Morphology page of the site indicates this:  “Abdomen is long and slender and with nine evident segments.  The apex of abdomen in male enlarged into a club-shaped hypopygium, in female extended into elongate, acutely pointed ovipositor.  They can be sexed visually in the field by these two characters.
The bigger mystery is the extra pair of wings.  We don’t know if this is a genetic mutation or something else entirely, but if it is a mutation, we suspect some museum would love to have your specimen.  We are going to contact Dr. Chen Young, and expert in Crane Flies, but a few days ago we got an “out of office” reply to an email indicating that he is collecting in the field.  It appears that you have three Crane Flies and one is an aberration.  Identifying the exact species of Crane Flies is a real challenge and we do not feel confident enough to attempt anything conclusive.  With that said, the individual on the right of your photo showing all three might be Tipula paterifera, based on a comparison to photos posted to BugGuide.  We hope Dr. Young gets back to us soon to solve the other mystery.

Crane Fly male

CORRECTION:  Thanks to Eric Eaton
Not a crane fly.  This is a “hangingfly,” a type of scorpionfly in the order Mecoptera, family Bittacidae:
Neat find!

Thanks so much Eric.  We feel a bit embarrassed at this moment because the thought of a Scorpionfly did run through our mind, yet we didn’t research that before posting.

Dr. Chen Young provides some identifications
October 5, 2010
Hi Daniel,
This bug is not a trur fly it is a hangingfly in the family Bittacidae of the order Mecoptera.  It does look like a crane fly except it has four wings.

Thanks Chen,
I have already learned about this embarrassing misidentification.

Hi Daniel,
Hey we all make misidentifications and mistakes.
The two crane flies in his project are:  the male is Tipula borealis
and the female is Tipula oleraceae, one of the two introduced european crane flies.
I have already forwarded my answer to your mating crane flies from India to you.  Let me know when you get it.

Update from Austin
October 8, 2010
Dear Mr. Marlos,
Thank you for your help.  My project is to collect 10 insects and identify them.  My teacher gave us 8 orders to find and pin. We are allowed to find two from the same order.  Now, this would be the 9th order not on her list.  I am glad that I found an order that is not on her list.  I will send you a picture of my project when I am done.  It is due on Oct 18, 2010.
I like your web site.  It helped me a lot on my insect project.  I could not identify some of the insects until Mrs. Godsey told us about your web site.  The first time I logged into your site, one of the insects was your bug of the month for September.  It was the Stump Stabber, Giant Ichneumon.  I found it during my summer vacation in Canada.  I could not identify it for a long time before then.  I was so excited when there it was on your front page.  Then I saw a leaf footed bug picture someone had send you a question.   And there it was again look just like one of my insect.
Thank you and have a great weekend.

Dear Austin,
We are happy that you and your teacher, and hopefully your entire class, has found our website helpful.  It is our mission to try to share a sense of wonder with the lower beasts and to educate the public regarding the important place these bugs fill in the intricate web of life that occupies our fragile planet.  It is also refreshing to hear from such an industrious student since we get so many desperate requests to do people’s homework when they realize that they have procrastinated on their entomology collection projects.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hermetia fly?
Location:  Redding, California, United States, North America
October 2, 2010 6:18 pm
Hey, my roommate caught this fly and I can’t figure out what it is. Short anennae, maybe 3 segments. The hindtibia are half white and half black, and the foretarsus, midtarsus, and hindtarsus are all white. Interestingly, there only appears to be 4 abdominal sternites, the first of which, appearing where the 1st and 2nd usually would be, is transparent/white. The rest of the body, including the wings, is black, or very nearly so, excepting the halters, which are a cotton candy/bread-mold blue. It looks very similar to certain wasps that live in this area, and often opens it’s wings to a position similar to bees or waspsso I thought it might be in the family Hermetia, but I haven’t been able to find a picture that matches this fly. Do you have any idea what it is?
Signature:  Collegiate ameture

Window Fly

Dear Collegiate ameture,
You are absolutely correct.  Your fly is a Black Soldier Fly,
Hermetia illucens, though we prefer the name Window Fly, a name not recognized on BugGuide.  We use the name Window Fly which was reported by Charles Hogue in his excellent book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, and the name refers to the transparent “windows” on the abdomen that you describe.  BugGuide uses Window Fly for an entirely different family.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Insect to be identified
Location:  Mumbai, India
September 30, 2010 1:43 am
I just caught these insects mating (I guess) I am unable to identify these insects. I have uploaded couple of pictures which would help.
Thank you and Reagrds
Signature:  Mahesh F. Pardesi

Crane Flies Mating

Dear Mahesh,
Your photos of mating Crane Flies in the family Tipulidae are stunning.  This is a beautiful pair of insects.  The male has the feathery antennae.  We don’t know how much species information we would be able to find for Asian species, so we are going to contact an expert in the family for assistance.  We generally search the Crane Flies of Pennsylvania for North American species, and Dr. Chen Young of Carnegie Museum of Natural History assists us when we have problems.  Hopefully he will be able to provide a species name for us.

Mating Crane Flies

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for taking out time and replying my mail.
Atleast I know now that these are Crane Fly.
Would be eager to know the Species.
Thank You again.
Mahesh F. Pardesi

Karl Unearths the Answer
Hi Daniel and Mahesh
These crane flies are so lovely that I couldn’t resist looking for more information. The species appears to be Pselliophora laeta (Tipulidae: Ctenophorinae). I could find only the one photo online but I did also find a matching illustration in a very old paper titled “Dipteres Exotiques Nouveaux” by M.J. Macquart (1837). It was presented under an older synonym, Ctenophora laeta. The wing pattern is very distinctive. According to Oosterbroek et al. (2006) the Ctenophorinae are all more or less spectacular and many resemble ichneumons or wasps. The comb-like antennae of the males are also distinctive. Ctenophorinae larvae all develop in decaying wood of deciduous trees and usually require old forest or orchard habitat. The genus Pselliophora is predominantly oriental in distribution and includes nearly a hundred species (so it is possible that these belong to a related and similar species). Regards. Karl

Dr. Chen Young responds
October 6, 2010
Hi Daniel,
I sent the following message on 30 of September but was rejected due to your mailbox was full.  I am forwarding it again and hope you will get it this time.

September 30, 2010
Dear Daniel,
Thanks for the image and I am so glad to see the mating pair.  As you may know by now that I am out of the museum and doing field research in Asia and your image really made my day since I have just seen one species of crane fly in the same group as the iamge you sent.
The crane fly of your image belong to Ctenophora (Pselliophora) group.  I dont know the species for sure but I will look into it after I return to the museum where I will have references that I can check into.  I am attaching one image of the one from Taiwan for your reference and you can also see the similarity they share.  I schedule to return on the 22 of October and I will contact you soon after.

Mating Crane Flies from Taiwan

Thanks so much Chen,
We really appreciate you taking the time to resend this email while you are in the field.  We are pleased to include your image of a mating related pair from Taiwan with the original posting.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you for the wonderful explanations forwarded by you Daniel. Still curious to know the species name.
Warm Regards,
Mahesh F. Pardesi

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Help! WTF is this bug, and why did I find it on my HEAD!
Location:  Connecticut
September 27, 2010 10:22 am
Hello, for the past 2 days I’ve been paranoid about ticks. I shot my first deer on Thursday, and while skinning it a tick jumped off and landed in my hair. I felt it moving and had a friend pull it off. Today is Monday morning, and after 3 sleepless nights, i come into work on Monday Morning and feel a little itch on the back of my neck. I scratch, but feel the itch a little to the left a few minutes later. I feel something moving between my back hair line and the backside of my ear! I pull off this little guy. I have no idea what it is. I’ve look at all the tick, spider, mite, and bedbug charts but cant seem to find anything that matches. As you can see in the picture it appears to have 4 legs in the rear, and 2 forward legs with a semi-pointed abdomen. It’s about 1/2 a CM in width & Length. Can you please help me identify this thing? I HOPE TO GOD this is just just a normal bug that found it’s way into my clothes last night (Laid them over a travel bag on the floor last night) or my car, etc. THANKS!!!
Signature:  Andrew

Louse Fly

Hi Andrew,
This is a Louse Fly in the family Hippoboscidae.  Louse Flies are true flies that are capable of flying feebly.  They feed on blood of warm blooded animals, and many are relatively host specific, but they are opportunistic and will feed upon a substitute species if the primary host is unavailable.  Louse Flies that feed on sheep are known as Sheep Keds and there is a species found in North America,
Lipoptena mazamae, that is commonly called the Neotropical Deer Ked.  According to BugGuide:  “This fly is a common obligate ectoparasite of New World deer. It has been collected on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) from the southeastern United States to Brazil (Bequaert 1942) and other deer species in the tropics.”  BugGuide indicates the range to be:  “Southeastern United States north at least to Virginia and west to Oklahoma and Texas. South to northern Argentina.”  Just because there are no reports on BugGuide of Neotropical Deer Keds from Connecticut does not mean the Louse Fly you found is a different species.  BugGuide also has this fascinating information on the life cycle of the Neotropical Deer Ked:  “Deer keds have a very interesting reproductive strategy. The female produces one larva at a time and retains the developing larva in her body until it is ready to pupate. The larva feeds on the secretions of a “milk gland” in the uterus of its mother. After three larval instars, the larva has reached its maximum size, the mother gives birth to the white pre-pupa which immediately begins to darken and form the puparium or pupal shell. The pupa falls from the deer and is usually deposited where the deer bedded. When the fly has completed its metamorphosis, the winged adult emerges from the puparium and flies in search of a host. After finding a host the adult fly breaks off its wings and is now permanently associated with that one deer. Both sexes feed on the blood of the host deer. They can live on a deer for up to 6 months.

Wow thanks for the quick response. So it is deer related, and it has been in my hair… oh boy. Do you know if should I used some sort of special shampoo to ensure there are no more, or to kill any of that interesting larvae you mentioned?  Since this appears to be in the early – non reproductive stages, do I even need to worry about larva being in my hair?

Since we are not experts, we generally refrain from giving health advice and we suggest that concerned individuals visit a doctor or clinic.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Strange Fly
Location:  Eastern Ontario, Canada
September 7, 2010 3:03 pm
Can you please help me identify this insect that appears to have 4 eyes. i have never seen anything quite like this anywhere. was very friendly during vacation near Kingston Ontario. We named it the Raspberry Fly because of its colour and approximate size being close to a raspberry. the picture attached is cropped. It is sitting on a friends palm.
Signature:  ?

Second Request
September 20, 2010 11:30 am
good afternoon, I understand your staff is small, i was just wondering what the screening process is. I sent in a picture of an insect I and anyone I show the picture to has never seen before. the title was “Strange Fly” (September 7th, 2010) I was hoping to send friends links to you site to see the bug.
Signature: Joe

Tachinid Fly

Dear Joe,
A name is much nicer than the interrogative punctuation mark you used on your original request.  We apologize for never responding to your original request, but as you indicated, we do have a small staff.  One person, The Bugman, responds to as many letters each day as time not spent on the time clock teaching college classes allows, and then The Bugman posts selected letters to the internet.  A second staff member oversees the running of the website, ensuring that the web browsing public has the highest quality service that our means permit.  This fly is a Tachinid Fly, possibly
Hystricia abrupta, which you may see on BugGuide. This group of Tachinid Flies are parasitoids on caterpillars.  Here is the explanation posted to BugGuide:  “The most common hosts are caterpillars. Most tachinids deposit their eggs directly on the body of their host, and it is not uncommon to see caterpillars with several tachinid eggs on them. Upon hatching the larva usually burrows into its host and feeds internally. When fully developed it leaves the host and pupates nearby. Some tachinids lay their eggs on foliage; the larvae are flattened and are called planidia; they remain on the foliage until they find a suitable host.
P.S.  There are currently 9473 letters in our email inbox.

Hello Daniel,
Wow, some hobby! Thanks so much for your attention in this matter.
I apologize for seeming terribly impatient.
Thanks again!
Your help is very much appreciated.
Have a great day.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination