Currently viewing the category: "Syrphid Flies"
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cocoons in comfrey tea
January 23, 2010
I just found clear, wriggling cocoons in my comfrey compost tea. you can see the bug inside the cocoon, a long black object with wings wrapped around. they have long stringy tails and are all bundled in a mass together. they do not look like maggots and they are roughly 1 cm in length. can you help me? i could not really get good shots as my camera is not much of a close up one.
shayni
New zealand, north island

Rat Tailed Maggots in Comfrey Tea

Dear shayni,
Our first thought on this is that we need to research exactly what the pupa of the Rat Tailed Maggot looks like, and then we need to see if comfrey tea is the name for the liquid fertilizer that is made by brewing manure in water.  You are right about your photo being blurry, but it does give a general idea of this mass of insects, but alas, the details must remain in our imagination, though that has been known to be rather vivid at times.  We see we were wrong about the comfrey tea, which is made from the plant comfrey, Symphytum officinale, and is applied externally to a number of conditions including bruises, cuts and acne, and that it might be used as an organic fertilizer.  It appears you have brewed it outdoors in a large bucket, which is why you have what we suspect your insects are Rat Tailed Maggots.  Rat Tailed Maggots are the larvae of Drone Flies, Eristalis tenax,  According to Charles Hogue in Insects of the Los Angeles Basin:  “the larvae live in water, usually in sluggish streams or small stagnant ponds that are foul with organic matter; they may also breed in fresh liquid cow manure.  Because of their extremely long, extendable posterior breathing tube, the larvae are called ‘Rat-Tailed Maggots.'”  We then found an online article entitled Eristalis tenax and Musca vomitoria in New Zealand by G.V. Hudson, F.E.S. that was read before the Wellington Philosophical Society on the 2nd October 1889.  Suddenly, your simple letter opened up an entirely new can of worms since the Drone Fly was reported in New Zealand prior to 1889:  Is the Drone Fly a truly cosmopolitan species because its range expanded naturally?  Or was it spread by man?  Mmmmmmm.  BugGuide has some excellent images of Drone Flies mating and BugGuide indicates the Drone Fly was introduced to North America prior to 1874.  We can’t help but wonder why and how Drone Flies were introduced to North America.  This could be a graduate thesis topic, but alas, at some point, we need to stop and respond that you have Rat Tailed Maggots in your Comfrey Tea.  According to Wikipedia:  “When fully grown, the larva creeps out into drier habitats and seeks a suitable place to pupate. In doing so it sometimes enters buildings, especially barns and basements on farms. The pupa is 10-12 mm long, grey-brown, oval, and retains the long tail; it looks like a tiny mouse.
”  We should also mention that the adult Drone Fly is a perfect mimic to the adult Honey Bee, and this mimicry is in itself interesting in that both the Honey Bee and the Drone Fly are connected to human agriculture and animal husbandry. Mmmmmm.

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Wood Boring Larvae
January 12, 2010
Recently, while removing a mimosa tree
(beneath power lines), I discovered some wood boring larvae. The main body is about 3/4″ long, with a tail a bit longer than the body. One didn’t survive the chain saw.
Could this be a type of horntail wasp larva?
Larry Taylor
Central Oklahoma

Rat Tailed Maggots

Rat Tailed Maggots

Hi Larry,
We believe these are the larva of a Drone Fly, Eristalis tenas, which are called Rat Tailed Maggots.  According to BugGuide:  “The adults feed on nectar from flowers and are often seen hovering in front of flower blooms in gardens in both urban and rural areas. The larvae feed on rotting organic material in stagnant water in a variety of locations.  Life Cycle  The larva of the Drone-Fly feeds on decaying organic material in stagnant water in small ponds, ditches and drains. Such water usually contains little or no oxygen and the larva breathes through the long thin tube that extends from its rear end to the surface of the water and that gives it its common name of ‘rat-tailed maggot’.
We have not heard of them boring in wood, though BugGuide has an image of one that was ” found in a trash can filled with water and old logs. Most seemed embedded in the log surface. Your letter did not indicate if the tree was decaying.  We have not heard of Rat Tailed Maggots living other than an aquatic environment, but according to a University of Kentucky report, The maggots can be a nuisance when they crawl away from their breeding site to find a dry place where they can transform to the adult stage.”  Your letter did not indicate if they were found deep inside the wood, or in the bark.  We wish we had that information.  We are going to check with Eric Eaton to get his opinion on this.

Confirmation from Eric Eaton
Hi, Daniel:
You are correct about the rat-tailed maggots.  I wonder if there was a hole in the tree that had collected water and/or decaying leaves and other organic matter.  That would explain things right there.
Eric

Daniel,
Thanks so much for identifing this unusual maggot.  It makes sense, as the tree had a hollow. (But no water in the hollow at the time of cutting)  They fell out when the tree was felled.  There were burrows in the wood that hadn’t rotted and just assumed thats where they came from.
I’ve observed the drone flies but had no idea of their larval stage.
Thanks again! Larry
P.S. I would like to submit a query on the identification of a peculiar grasshopper that likes water.  It will take some time to find the photo.

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Please I.D. this fly for me
January 7, 2010
these photos were taken on the 4th July 2009 at the side a track which runs along side a woodland which is within the very large area of Britains largest lowland raised bog area called Thorne Moor in South Yorkshire.The weather was warm still and sunny at the time
Malcolm Corps
South Yorkshire, England, U.K.

Unknown Fly

Tachinid Fly

Dear Malcolm,
We have been obsessed with trying to identify your magnificent black fly with a golden head, but alas, we have had no luck.  The Bioimages website Diptera page is rather difficult to search for images and it proved fruitless.  www.gwydir.cemon.co.uk is a nice website with numerous photos of flies, but again, your distinctive fly is not represented.  We believe this is a Tachinid Fly in the family Tachinidae.  We would not rule out a Bee Fly in the family Bombyliidae, or it may even be in some other family.  We have finally decided to post your photos and request assistance from our readership and we will also be writing to Eric Eaton to see if he can at least provide the family.

Unknown Fly

We believe the third photo you submitted is of a different species since the wing pattern is different.

Another Unknown Fly

Eric Eaton provides an identification
Yes, this is definitely a large tachinid fly, Family Tachinidae, maybe Tachinia grossa.  The third image is of the backside of a different fly, and that one is a flower fly (Syrphidae), specifically Volucella pellucens.
Eric

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What is this?
December 25, 2009
We have never seen a bug like thin in NZ before. Any idea what it might be? It looks like a cross between a blow fly and a wasp. Any light you could share on it would be great. Thanks heaps
Paulo the wonderer
Auckland New Zealand

Hover Fly

Hover Fly

Dear Paulo,
The ventral view of your photograph is not ideal for identification purposes, and a dorsal view is much preferred.  We believe this is some species of Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae.  You might try comparing the images on the Insects of Brisbane Syrphidae page to see if any look close to your specimen.

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help with identification
December 26, 2009
Dr. Mr. Bugman,
Like a lot of very silly people, I called this a bee. Then, I started looking for what kind of “bee” this is and realized that it’s probably not a bee at all. Smooth, bright yellow and black markings…I’m guessing a very poor pollinator….short antennae… and spotted in southeaster Alabama in late October on my cold frame plastic.
Would love to know what this little flyer is…since I did a graphic design of it…and want to call it something more than BeeArt…since it’s not a bee at all. Of this, I’m pretty certain. Thanks to your wonderful web site!
Kimberly, a master gardener, lover of bugs, but still learning about the birds & the bees
Ozark, Alabama (southeastern Alabama)

Yellow Jacket Hover Fly

Yellow Jacket Hover Fly

Dear Kimberly,
This is a Yellow Jacket Hover Fly, Milesia virginiensis.  It is one of the Syrphid Flies in the family Syrphidae, commonly called Flower Flies or Hover Flies.  Many species in the family mimic bees and wasps, hence your original confusion.  The adult Yellow Jacket Hover Fly feeds on nectar and pollen from plants like Queen Anne’s Lace, and it will also be attracted to the blooms of related plants in your garden like parsley, dill and carrots.  BugGuide has a wealth of information on the Yellow Jacket Hover Fly, including this tidbit gleaned from AllExperts.com:  “Flies aggressively and buzzes like a hornet. In the southern United States, sometimes called the news bee or good news bee for its habit of hovering in front of a person and “giving them the news”. It is also said to be good luck if one can get the insect to perch on a finger, no doubt because this is difficult to do.

Dear Mr. Marlos,
You have made my day….and I so appreciate your prompt response to my question re: identifying this colorful creature.  I adore the BUGS website and am grateful to folks, like you, who give this your time.  Such a worthy endeavor.  Thanks to you I am now a more informed individual and will be addressing this bee/yellow jacket mix up on my blog.  After I do, I’ll share the link with you…..so you can see the YJHF Art I created.
Thank you,
Kimberly

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Fly With Green Eyes, Green Body
October 22, 2009
My friends and I do alot of macro pictures of bugs and came across this fly with large green eyes and a metallic green body. Can you tell us what it is?
Bob in Florida
Tampa Bay Area of Florida

Syrphid Fly

Hover Fly

Hi Bob,
After unsuccessfully searching BugGuide, we were going to post your photo and enlist help from our readership, but one last ditch effort led us to Ornidia obesa, a species of Syrphid Fly, commonly called Flower Flies or Hover Flies.  Seems this species has a somewhat dubious reputation.  According to BugGuide:  “It breeds in human latrines and other semiliquid wastes
” and “It is known to carry bacteria of public health importance (Salmonella, Shigella and Mycobacterium). The species is also beneficial as the maggots can convert coffee-production waste products into useful protein sources for cattle feed.”  We found reference that this species from the New World tropics has spread to the Old World Tropics as well.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination