Monday, October 18, 2021

Wavy Mucksucker

I got this beautiful photograph in an email from Ben Caruthers titled "Have you ever seen a Wavy Mucksucker?" As this is a family blog, I won't give you all of the many responses that went through my mind. It turns out that this is a Wavy Mucksucker, Orthonerva nitida. (nitida= "shining")

The "wavy" comes from the lines on their eyes which reminds observers of hieroglyphics or primitive drawings. This pattern is a unique identifying feature. The tiny fly tops out at 1/4" (6 mm).

This is a syrphid or hoverfly, commonly referred to as flower flies. They are all member of the insect family Syrphidae. As you might have guessed, they are often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers; the adults of many species feed mainly on nectar and pollen.  Their larvae eat a wide range of foods, depending on the species.  Some eat aphids, thrips and other plant-sucking insects, helping to defend our gardens.


According to American Insects "This fly with the odd eyes ranges from Ontario and Maine south to Texas and Georgia. It is also found in California and Washington. In the more central part of its range it is most commonly seen May to October."

Hoverflies are considered the second most important pollinators, just behind bees.  My personal favorite it the Yellowjacket Hover Fly, aka. "news bee".  We see them both in town and in the country fields, giving us the news with urgent buzzing while hovering sometime inches in front of our faces.  Once you get to know them you too will welcome their visit. 

For us casual observers it is all in the unique eyes but Ben's photographs above give us a good chance to see the details as described in FFnaturesearch.

"A tiny Syrphid fly is about 1/4 inch (6 mm) in length. The eyes are large and tan with a dark dash line and many squiggly brown lines. The face has scales and is metallic looking. The antennae are black. The thorax is brown with dark brown stripes. The abdomen is brown with metallic overtones. The wings are clear with dark veining. The femurs and tibiae are black and the tarsi are orange with black tips." 

  Oops, a family blog!    Pamela Fisher CC