Soldier Fly: Odontomyia cincta

Subject: Daniel – Syrphid Fly?
Location: Hawthorne, CA
August 5, 2014 8:16 am
We have a new to us plant that came up this year – a Brown-Eyed Susan. It’s attracting all kinds of neat bugs and I got these shots yesterday. I’m sure it’s a Syrphid Fly and I know they are hard to pin down exactly because there are so many of them, but would you please be able to confirm and maybe find which one it is?
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon

Soldier Fly
Soldier Fly

Dear Anna,
We just went through all the Syrphid Flies twice in a feeble attempt to identify a “Corn Tassle Fly” sent to us from Indiana, so we were pretty certain your guess that this is a member of the family Syrphidae was incorrect, even though it greatly resembles the members of that family.  Our initial impulse that this is a Soldier Fly in the family Stratiomyidae proved to be correct.  We quickly identified your pretty Soldier Fly as
Odontomyia cincta thanks to this image on BugGuide which is a perfect match to your lateral view.

Odontomyia cincta:  Lateral View
Odontomyia cincta: Lateral View

Sadly, BugGuide has no species information, but we did learn on the genus page on BugGuide that we might have the species wrong because Species identification often requires examination of genitalia.”  BugGuide also notes the habitat is:  “Woodlands, fields, usually near water; larvae are aquatic” and “Adults take nectar, also sometimes found on dung; larvae feed on algae.”  We are guessing that you must have a water feature in your garden, or nearby.  Composite flowers, like this Black Eyed Susan and the Cosmos you grow are excellent for attracting pollinating insects like bees, wasps, beneficial flies and butterflies.  Alas, we only have four cosmos plants, and all are less than 18 inches tall right now.  None has bloomed yet.  The dry winter was not good for our normally very prolific garden.

Soldier Fly
Soldier Fly

Dear Daniel,
Thanks so much for the response.  I think you are correct, but the markings on mine are different than the photo of the Soldier Fly you linked to.
We have only a bird bath and small buckets of water (that algae grows in) that we put the legs to our worm composter in and then float mineral water on top of to keep the ants out of the composter.  Our neighbor to the south does have a pool that he doesn’t maintain very well . . .  I’m sorry to hear that your cosmos plants didn’t do well.  We’ve had only scattered blooms ourselves.  I think we’re a bit closer to the equator than you (joke) so may have had more rain.  Would you like to try your hand at scattering some Brown-eyed Susan seeds next spring?
Thanks again,

Thanks Anna,
Rudbeckia has naturalized in our yard, and some years there are more and some years less.  this year it is less, but hopefully seeds will drop.
Perhaps your Soldier Fly is a different species in the genus.  Alas, we do not have the necessary credentials to inspect the genitalia.


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