Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Flower Fly


November can be a last gasp for the strange creatures that prowl the glades and fields, hunting insects with a camera before the frost drives them into winter mode.  Becky Swearingen and I are some of those, and she shared some of her catch with me.

Click to enlarge
Above is an insect that would have the ordinary kid crying out "bee."  At first glance it is a rather convincing mimic of a yellowjacket whose aggressive nature keeps me at a distance.   You will notice that the wings are held outward, unlike the pose of a yellowjacket which holds its wings along its back.

This large flower fly will sometimes hover in front of you, buzzing loudly as if "delivering the news."  It is said to be good luck if it perches on your finger, although I would say that attempting that is more an indicator of entomological skill or bravery.

The Syrphidae family are a large group, commonly called hover flies, flower flies or sweat bees.  Smaller versions commonly hang annoyingly on a glass or can of soda, mistaking our drink for theirs.  They feed mainly on nectar and pollen while their larvae frequently feed on aphids, a welcome visitor to our gardens.

Becky's  flower flies might be the common Virginia flower fly, a.k.a. yellowjacket hover fly, Milesia virginiensisThe back seems to lack yellow bars and the abdomen has more cupped black bars and there are a lot of candidates, so we are waiting the opinion of Bugguide. 

Rapid Bugguide response.  ID as Toxomerus marginatus

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