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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: identification
Location: Tucson, AZ
October 6, 2016 6:04 pm
Dear Bugman,
I am submitting a few photos of insects for identification. They were taken between October 1 and 4 2016 in our community garden in Tucson, AZ.
Image 1 I believe to be a bee fly, perhaps of genus Exoprosopa.
…I would be very happy if you could identify the insets in these photos that I would like to share with my fellow gardeners.
Thanks very much!
Signature: Melody

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Dear Melody,
We agree that this is a Bee Fly in the family Bombyliidae, but in our opinion, you have the genus misidentified.  The pattern on the wings looks more like the pattern on the wings of
Dipalta serpentina which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “The wing venation is quite distinctive: the radial segment R2+3 is strongly contorted into an ‘S’-shape, and is connected (at first sinus of the ‘S’) by a cross-vein to R4 (see wing diagram from the MND here).”  BugGuide also notes:  “Larvae are parasitoids of pupae, and perhaps also larvae, of antlions (Myrmeleontidae).”

Dear Daniel,
Thanks very much for the inset identification. I didn’t know the Bug Guide rules so apologize for sending photos of on-related species.
I am attaching the same photo of the dorsal view of the bee fly along with a three quarter view in which the pattern of dark pigmentation in the wing is more easily seen. This pigmentation pattern does not quite match that of the Dialta serpentina photo on Bug Guide. But perhaps pigmentation is variable and venation is what is what is used for identification purposes?
Thanks again. I am just a gardener, not a dedicated bug geek, but am always fascinated by the diversity of insects we see in our organic garden.
Thanks again!
Melody

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Hi again Melody,
For clarification, we are What’s That Bug? and we frequently cite BugGuide, an entirely different website when we attempt to identify the submissions we receive.  There is no need for you to apologize.  While we attempt to identify as many submissions as we can, we are also interested in posting excellent submissions to our archive, and that is the primary reason we request that submissions be limited to a single individual, species or family, unless there are extenuating circumstances.  With that stated, with difficult identifications, often multiple views of the same individual are helpful in making identifications, and for that reason, we allow our curious readership to attach up to three images.  Regarding pigmentation pattern, there is often variation within a single species, and veination pattern is a more scientifically accepted method for taxonomic identification.  That said, our editorial staff does not have any formal entomological background, so our identifications are questionable at best.  We are frequently wrong and we enthusiastically welcome corrections from true experts.  If you look at other images on BugGuide of
Dipalta serpentina, you will see that there are individuals with pigmentation patterns that are similar to your individual.  Finally, modern identification is depending more and more on DNA analysis, which is leading to lumping together of formerly distinct species and subspecies, and splitting apart of formerly single species.  At the end of the day, insects and other creatures are better at identifying potential mates in their own species than we humans are.
P.S.  Your Ant identification request is still on our back burner, and we would humbly request, if you have the time and you want to make our posting a bit easier, for you to resubmit the image, use our standard submission form, and attach multiple views of those Ants so we are able to more carefully consider their physical characteristics.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Flying “Bee” that eats flies…
Location: Pacific Northwest
October 4, 2016 5:34 am
The Pacific Northwest always seems to come up with tales of strange creatures…BigFoot, D.B Cooper, the Puget Sound Monster…and now a mysterious flying insect that feeds on flies.
I’ve witnessed this assassin do its work usually during the Summer months (actually, I’ve only seen it during the Summer months) and is most active during daylight hours.
It resembles a black and white bumble bee (the white almost exactly replacing the yellow areas of the common bee). Its predatory method is to hover around wherever there are flies, and amazingly will swoop down on top of a fly before the fly knows what hit it. After a few seconds, predator and prey fly off into the sunset.
But the assault is even more interesting. I bore witness to the process while these mysterious fly-eaters did their work on the sunny-side of my tent while camping in Oregon. The flies were congregating on the Western side of the tent, around 1pm, and there were a lot of them. Big and small (so I don’t know how many species there were). Out of no where a flight of these assasin bugs began hovering over the flies. They would swoop in and lans on top of their target. Then, as they allowed me close enough to witness, they spin the fly over and over as their pincers clip off their victim’s wings and legs before flying off with only the torso remaining. It was rather cool to see…there were many of the assassins, and over the course of an hour I witnessed a thousand legs and wing fall along the side of the tent.
I’ve seen these bugs from the Columbia River Gorge, to metropolitan Portland, OR, to the Oregon/Washington Coast.
(Apologies for no pictures, and it isn’t for lack of trying. I have tried many times, but those little buggers are pretty darn quick…and small.)
Signature: Please Bug Me

Bee Killer Eats Wasp

Bee Killer Eats Wasp (from our archives)

Though you did not provide an image, we found your letter highly entertaining, and we believe you observed one of the predatory Robber Flies that mimics a bee.  There is one species known as a Bee Killer in California, Mallophora fautrix, but we don’t know if it is also found in Oregon.  Another possibility is a Bee-Like Robber Fly, Laphria astur, that is found in Oregon and is pictured on BugGuide.  There are also many other possible species, but without an image, we do not want to speculate.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Black, red-headed beetle.
Location: Coastal Connecticut, USA
October 2, 2016 12:29 pm
Please help me identify these little chaps. Our flowering plants are full of them. They seem to be browsing on the flowers, rather than eating the leaves (at least, so far).
Signature: Doug

March Flies

March Flies

Dear Doug,
These are not Beetles.  They are March Flies in the family Bibionidae, and we believe they may be female
Bibio longipes, a species according to BugGuide that is a  “fall-flying species. Females are distinguished by their reddish color.”

March Fly

March Fly

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Tiger Bee?
Location: Hialeah Florida
October 1, 2016 8:20 pm
Oct. 1 I noted a bee that behaved differently from the usual honey bees I see. It spent a lot of time nectaring on a single lantana blossom, then flew only a few inches to the nearest blossom, and stayed on that one quite a while, too.
When I looked through the zoom lens I saw that it was definitely not a honey bee- with much larger eyes, a white ‘nose’, and no ‘hair’ on the back, which was striped instead of solid color, and it did not seem to be picking up pollen.
Is it perhaps some kind of leafcutter bee? It was very pretty and made me think of a tiger’s coloration.
Signature: Curious in Florida

Hover Fly

Hover Fly

Dear Curious in Florida,
This is not a Bee, but rather a Flower Fly or Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae, a group that contains many members that mimic stinging bees and wasps for protection.  We believe your individual is in the genus
Palpada and according to BugGuide:  “Closely related to Eristalis but usually more colorful on the thorax and/or abdomen.”  While several species in the genus are found in Florida and look similar, we believe the closest visual match on BugGuide is Palpada vinetorum, and according to BugGuide:  “A robust syrphid, (typical of genus Palpada), yellowish-brown with gray bands on thorax. Legs reddish or yellowish, femora darker. Hind tibiae thick, arc-shaped. Wings slightly darkened.”

Hover Fly

Hover Fly

Thank you for satisfying my curiosity!
After I sent the ID request I wondered if perhaps it was a fly pretending to be a bee (I now have a mental image of flies dressing up as bees for Halloween and going around with tiny sacks to collect nectar). It sure looks like the Palpada vinetorum in the BugGuide pics. You are amazing. :^)

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Challenge to our Readers:  Help us identify this striking looking Fly

Subject: Giant Malaysian Fly
Location: Malaysia
October 2, 2016 8:03 am
Hi,
I’ve seen this fly on occasion and am unable to identify it. It’s the largest fly I’ve ever seen, around the size of a large deer fly, around 1.5 inches in size. Though I think I’ve even seen as big as 2 inches.
They have shiny, bluish backs, and about 1/4 of the end of their abdomen is yellow. They are generally slow.
Signature: Alex

Horse Fly, we believe

Horse Fly, we believe

Dear Alex,
We have not had any luck finding similar looking images online, but we believe this is a female Horse Fly in the family Tabanidae.  Interestingly, our searches did bring up images of a “gold butt” Horse Fly that was captured in 1981 in Australia and has recently been named after pop diva Beyonce.  According to Asian Scientist:  “A previously un-named species of horse fly with golden hair on its lower abdomen has been named in honor of pop diva, Beyoncé – a member of the former group Destiny’s Child.  AsianScientist (Jan. 13, 2012) – A previously un-named species of horse fly with golden hair on its lower abdomen has been named in honor of pop diva, Beyoncé – a member of the former group Destiny’s Child, that recorded the 2001 hit single, Bootylicious. According to the Australian National Insect Collection researcher responsible for officially ‘describing’ the fly as Scaptia (Plinthina) beyonceae, CSIRO’s Bryan Lessard, the fly’s spectacular gold color makes it the ‘all time diva of flies.'”  The site also notes:  “‘It was the unique dense golden hairs on the fly’s abdomen that led me to name this fly in honor of the performer Beyoncé as well as giving me the chance to demonstrate the fun side of taxonomy – the naming of species,’ Mr Lessard said.”  Weekly World News also picked up the story and notes:  “CANBERRA, Australia — A newly discovered horse fly in Australia was so ‘bootylicious’ with its golden-haired butt, that entomologists named it: Beyonce.  Previously published results from Bryan Lessard, a 24-year-old researcher at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, were recently announced on the species that had been sitting in a fly collection since it was captured in 1981 – the same year pop diva Beyonce was born.”  Though your fly shares the striking gold butt, your individuals blue body and black wings make it an even more striking looking fly.  We hope our readers will take up this challenge and write to us with their findings.

Hi Daniel!
I appreciate the quick reply!  I did a Google search with the “gold butt” Horse fly name, and saw what you’re referring to.  It’s similar in appearance, but not identical.  I don’t know if that means they’re related?  The main difference is that the fly I found is completely hairless.   If you guys want, I can capture one (next time I see one… I see them once every few months) and send it to you.   I sometimes find them dead, and can prepare a specimen for you (if you let me know how. 🙂 ).
Thanks!

Hi again Alex,
Let’s let our readership attempt to identify your fly before we resort to capturing a specimen.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Bee Flies are Dipalta serpentina
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
September 17, 2016 1:30 PM
Earlier in the week, we posted an image of a Bee Fly we identified as
Villa lateralis and we wrote about a brown Bee Fly that we were unable to capture as an image.  Well, today we took several images of the same brown Bee Fly species, and as the afternoon progressed, we got additional images.  At one point, we got images of four individuals taking nectar from the blooming chives, and after putting the camera away, we spotted a fifth individual.  We are relatively certain we have correctly identified these Bee Flies as Dipalta serpentina thanks to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “For many years it was stated that Dipalta were parasitoids of antlion larvae. …  However, the 1989 paper by Leech & Leech demonstrated a clear instance of Dipalta serpentina parasitizing the pupal stage of an antlion (rather than the larval stage). D. serpentina might also parasitizes antlion larvae, though it seems to be in question (earlier observers may have not observed carefully enough to distinguish between larval & pupal parasitism).”

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Two Bee Flies

Two Bee Flies

And then there were four Bee Flies

And then there were four Bee Flies

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination