Mydas flies have a golden band across their bodies and are named after the legend of king Midas. But where are Mydas flies found around the world? What is their habitat like? Let’s find out.
Belonging to the family of flies under Mydidae, Mydas flies are a harmless bunch, despite their rather large and intimidating wasp-like appearance.
Their family name comes from the name of King Midas – a mythological king with the ability to turn anything into gold based on touch!
Mydas flies sport an orange-golden colored band – which could possibly have led them to have this name.
These flies feed on nectar and pollen from flowers and thrive in warmer climates like the tropics and sub-tropics.
They are found in both dry and warm areas, such as the deserts in the southwest of North America, as well as the warm and humid grasslands.
Rotting tree carcasses in such areas are especially good hosts for the larvae to feed on.
What Are Mydas Flies?
The Mydas Fly is a species of large fly with an iridescent black colored body, with bands of red, orange, or yellow and legs dotted with golden-orange specs.
They have a long, barrel-shaped abdomen which is further segmented into three parts. Their rear legs are longer and more muscular than those of other flies.
Their feet are cushioned with spiny bristles running along.
Mydas flies may range in size from ¼ to 1¼ inches, with the largest being 2 inches! They look quite similar to Robber flies, belonging to the family of Asilidae.
However, unlike robber flies, this fly species sports singular, clubbed antennae.
Where Are They Found?
Thriving in most tropical and sub-tropical areas, this fly species hosts almost 400 species of flies worldwide – a relatively small number as compared to other families.
North America itself is home to around 80 of these species, with the Mydas clavatus being the most commonplace.
Within these areas, adult flies can be found anywhere, from open grasslands to forests, feeding on plants or burrowing in the sand.
Those in the larval stage can be found in dead or decaying trees. In the pupae stage, they are found burrowed within the earth.
How Long Do Mydas Flies Live?
Since they have not been extensively studied, there is not much credible information regarding their life span.
Though like most flies, it is believed that adult flies have a very short lifespan.
In general, a female Mydas fly will lay eggs after burrowing in the soil in soft, rotting trees. The male of some species may scout suitable sites for laying eggs.
The eggs hatch into larvae which feed and grow over several instar stages.
The larval stage may last for a year, after which the larvae burrow into the group to form pupae.
The adult fly, using its spiny legs, will emerge from the soil. After a small rest, it flies off as an adult.
The time of development from larvae to adult flies may also vary based on the weather. For example, adult flies wait for the hottest hour of the day before emerging from the soil.
Defense Mechanisms of Mydas Flies
Harmless insects like the Mydas fly often employ defense mechanisms such as Batesian mimicry.
This is a type of defense where harmless animals may evolve over time to look similar to potential predators of their own predator or venomous species.
The Mydas fly also takes on this approach by mimicking wasps. Their longer rear legs in flight and translucent wings make them look quite similar to spider wasps.
In fact, it also mimics a stinging motion upon landing – but cannot actually sting. That’s because the Mydas fly does not have a stinger or ovipositor to lay eggs.
The hoverfly is another example of a fly that mimics looking like a honeybee but is not a stinging species.
What Does It Feed On?
In the larval stage, the flies feed on beetle grubs, usually found in rotting trees. They might also feed on other larval animals, such as caterpillars or smaller flies.
As winged adults, these flies sustain themselves on pollen and nectar. Some common plants they visit are milkweed and Appalachian mountain mint.
Unlike the larvae, who are adept soil hunters, adult flies might even have atrophied mouthparts – making it impossible to feed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do Mydas flies live?
Mydas flies are a common species found throughout the world, mostly in grasslands and woodlands, as well as in arid deserts.
Apart from North America, they are also found in sandy Australian regions, especially along the east and west coasts.
Do Mydas flies bite or sting?
Mydas flies as adults are harmless and cannot bite or sting. However, they do mimic a stinging motion when in danger, similar to that of wasps. The motion remains a mimicry and not an actual sting!
Are Mydas flies beneficial
Mydas larvae feed on beetle grubs, which are known to eat and damage leaves and crops. Hence, they are considered to be beneficial in gardens and agricultural places. Moreover, adult flies, when searching for nectar, help in pollinating.
Are Mydas flies dangerous?
Despite growing to as much as 2 inches in size and resembling wasps to the untrained eye, Mydas flies are a harmless species.
One of the key differences that can help you spot a Mydas fly from a wasp is the pair of wings.
Belonging to Order Diptera, the adult flies have one pair of wings. Wasps, on the other hand, have two pairs.
While relatively common across the world, the Mydas fly is rarely seen due to its short lifespan as an adult.
Moreover, their family size is quite small, and their sightings are infrequent as compared to the other fly families.
They certainly draw attention due to their large size. However, the next time you see one – remember that they are harmless and good for the environment!
We hope you enjoyed reading about this elusive and mesmerizing insect!
Mydas flies are a fascinating watch, and many of our readers have been blessed with sightings of this gorgeous, yellow-banded fly.
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