Currently viewing the category: "Syrphid Flies"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

The Baccharis in Elyria Canyon Park is still buzzing with activity.
Location:  Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
October 6, 2012

Painted Lady

There were at least four individual Painted Ladies, Vanessa cardui, nectaring on the Baccharis this morning at about 9:30.  Though most of them were wary and kept their distance, this diminutive beauty, the smallest of them all, posed just a few feet from the camera.  This photo nicely illustrates the white bar on the forewing that is a distinguishing feature.

Painted Lady

Though the closed wing shot is of a different individual, we are confident that all the Ladies we observed today were Painted Ladies and not the similar looking West Coast Ladies or American Ladies.  The spots on the underwings of this individual are identifying features of the Painted Lady.

Gulf Fritillary

A lone Gulf Fritillary was also observed on the Baccharis as was a large Mexican Cactus Fly, a member of the Flower Fly family Syrphidae, and countless Honey Bees which were furiously gathering nectar.

Mexican Cactus Fly




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Subject: wasps
Location: Uhweisen, Switzerland
September 19, 2012 6:13 am
Could you please tell me what the insect on the left is?
Signature: JPB

Flower Fly

Hi again JPB,
This is a lovely photo.  This is not a wasp.  It is a fly in the family Syrphidae, and the members of the family are frequently called Flower Flies or Hover Flies.  Mistaking it for a wasp is understandable as many members of the family mimic stinging insects like wasps and bees.  Here is information on the North American Flower Flies from BugGuide.

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Subject: need help identification,
Location: Saugus, California,
August 12, 2012 6:34 pm
Dear ______,
I found this weird insect on the kitchen cabinet today, It looked like a bee but also look like a fly. It is about half an inch long and about a size of a bee. It had the yellow and black stripes on it like a bee, but doesn’t have that one fuzzy abdomen or fuzz at all like a honey bee or a bumble bee. It also had no antennas, but what really got me is the eyes were on top of its head close together like they were touching, and they were big and round like balls, but they had tons of small yellow stripes.
I wasn’t sure if I should look under bee or fly for identifying it,
Unfortunately it got away so I couldn’t get a picture but I used photoshop and drew the best i can of it.
Please respond if you can,
Signature: kelsey

Eristalinus taeniops, we believe

Hi kelsey,
We love your drawing.  We believe that based on your interpretive drawing, your excellent description and your location that you discovered a Flower Fly or Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae, a family that includes many member that mimic bees and wasps.  Furthermore, we are quite confident that it is
Eristalinus taeniops, a species with no common name.  According to BugGuide, it is:  ” A widespread Old World species introduced to California.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Is this a wasp?
Location: Coastal San Diego County
July 22, 2012 12:36 pm
Found this in my backyard in San Diego in mid July. It is 3/8” long. Can you identify it?
I’m guessing it’s a beneficial parasitic wasp of some kind?
Signature: Clint

Big Headed Fly, possibly

Hi Clint,
This is most definitely not a wasp.  It is a fly.  We believe it is either a Big Headed Fly in the family Pipunculidae which is represented on BugGuide by a few species that look generally like your individual, though none are an exact match.  If it is not a Big Headed Fly, our second choice would be a Flower Fly or Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae, but there are too many possibilities for us to want to undertake that task after a long busy day at the day job and an evening of local activism regarding transportation issues.
  Big Headed Flies and Syrphid Flies are grouped in the not taxonomically recognized category that is a between the Order and Family, though it is not considered a Suborder.  The insect diversity in Southern California is great, so we try to post unusual submissions from there whenever possible. 

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Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
July 21, 2012
As a prelude to National Moth Week, the Mount Washington Homeowners Alliance partnered with What’s That Bug? by hosting a Moth Night in Elyria Canyon Park on the weekend before the official start of National Moth Week in order to accommodate the busy schedules of hosts Julian Donahue and Daniel Marlos.  Since National Moth Week is about moths and diversity, we took this opportunity to educate those in attendance about the wealth of nocturnal life in Elyria Canyon Park.  Julian, Kathy, Lauri and Daniel arrived just before 7 PM and opened the gate so that visitors could take advantage of the event by driving into an area that is normally closed to motor vehicles.  Setting up for the event involved getting power to thre
e distinct sites for attracting moths with different light sources:  black or ultraviolet bulbs, incandescent bulbs and mercury vapor bulbs, and these preparations were made before sunset.

Anise Swallowtail Caterpillar displaying osmeterium

Just as Julian finished setting up the black light he was running off his vehicle battery, the first guest walked up.  Darlene from Torrance had arrived before us and while checking out the life in the park, she discovered the Caterpillar of an Anise Swallowtail as well as three eggs on the wild fennel.  Darlene, an avid fan of insects, continued to capture creatures in her viewing box and her most notable finds of the day and night included a Flower Fly larva, a female Bush Katydid, a mating pair of invasive exotic African Painted Bugs, a Checkered Beetle and a winged male Sand Cockroach.  Young Julian captured a specimen of Arboreal Click Beetle with unusual feathered antennae.

The early arrivals for Moth Night approximately 8 PM

The earliest folks to arrive got a quick tour of the beginnings of the butterfly garden that the beautification committee is planting thanks to a generous grant from the North American Butterfly Association (NABA).  Gathering folks together for a group photo is kind of like trying to herd cats, but we did manage to get a few organized group shots of most of the people who arrived just before sunset.  Julian began by giving an overview of moths, their place in the ecosystem, how to attract them and then took questions from the eager crowd.  People continued to explore the park on their own while there was still light and the youngsters started catching insects in the bottles that were provided so that they could be identified.  Refreshments were provided by MWHA Hospitality VP Susanne Brody.

Folks begin to hunt for insects and other small creatures

A skunk wandered from the nursery behind the red barn into the meadow just as darkness began to fall and this generated quite a bit of excitement.  Then the moths and other insects began to arrive to the various light sources that were designed to attract them.

Black Light and Incandescent Light area

Julian explained earlier that the best nights for mothing with lights are warm, humid, calm and moonless.  Alas, the only desirable condition we had was the fact that there was a new moon.  A slight breeze and cooler conditions prevailed, but we were still graced with a variety of geometrids, pyralids, noctuids, tortricids, acrolophids, and tineids as well as some interesting beetles, mayflies and lacewings.  Fun was had by all of the approximately 35 people who attended Moth Night in Elyria Canyon Park.

Collecting around the mercury vapor bulb





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Subject: ?Beefly
Location: Salisbury, UK
June 2, 2012 6:08 am
Dear Bugman,
I encountered this insect in a garden in southern England on 2nd June 2012. weather was bright but not sunny, the fly seemd lethargic and unwilling to fly. It was sitting on some aubretia. I have included a second image to show the folding of the wings, one on top of the other. Can you enlighten me please
Signature: Rich

Narcissus Bulb Fly

Hi Rich,
This furry bee mimic had us perplexed, and we thought it resembled a Bot Fly, so we did some searching and found several similar looking Bot Flies in the UK and Europe, including the Deer Bot Fly,
Cephenemyia auribarbis, which we found pictured on the Natural History Travel Notes Blog and this related species on Wikipedia.  Though they were similar, they were not an exact match, so we sought assistance from Eric Eaton who replied:  “Hi! No, this is the Narcissus Bulb Fly, Merodon equestris.  It is a type of syrphid fly.  Eric”  We then found a matching photo on Garden Stew and a nice description of its life cycle on the North Carolina State University website.  We will be away for a week beginning next week and we are postdating your identification request to go live on our website during that time.

Narcissus Bulb Fly

You guys are great. That figures, I have lots of narcissi in my garden, obviously being eaten to hell!! Thanks so much, I’ll make a donation shortly.

Thanks Rich.  The Garden Stew website offers this gardening advice:  “A little tip to help is that when you pull out the leaves or flowers, run your hand over the soil to fill in the holes. These holes give the fly access to the bulbs. “

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination