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Flower fly

Flower flies are not as easy to distinguish from other kinds of flies. Many kinds of flies, especially soldier flies and bee flies, also have a bee- or wasp-like appearance. The best way to accurately identify a flower fly is by inspecting the wings with a microscope.

Flower fly

Flower fly

Their size ranges from 4 mm to over 25 mm and their coloration from bright yellow or orange to dull dark black or gray with a few iridescent forms. Flower Flies are abundant on flowers, which are used as mating sites and energy sources. Only the microdontines are not found associated with flowers, but rather with their ant hosts. Many flower Flies are Batesian mimices of stinging wasps and bees (Hymenoptera).

All common flies in the family Syrphidae have a so-called “spurious vein” in each wing . It is called a “spurious vein” because neither end connects with other wing veins. Most veins in insect wings are connected at either end to other veins.

Flower flies live in many habitats, but the most common species are found in field crops, gardens, and weedy areas (such as fence rows). The adult flies often visit flowers to feed on nectar, which makes them an easy meal for predators like crab spiders and ambush bugs.

Flower fly larvae are also found in a variety of habitats. Some live and feed in decaying plant material. Some are fully aquatic and are found in septic water. Several common species live on plants where they hunt for aphids and other small insects.

Flower fly

Flower fly

The larvae feed internally in the host, often consuming all but the skin of the host. Only one larva usually develops in each host, but if the host species is large, more than one larva may successfully develop. When the larva completes feeding, it bores out of the host and pupates.

Life Cycle : Immature stages (eggs, maggots & puparia) are found in a diverse array of habitats. Larvae of the subfamily Microdontinae are inquilines in ants’ nests. Those of Syrphinae are predaceous on soft-bodied arthropods, although some may occassionally be scavangers.

Those of Eristalinae can predaceous (pipizines), saprophagous in litter and dead wood (most milesiines), coprophagous (some rhingiines and milesiines), mycetophagous (some rhingiines), phytophagous (as borers in tubers, stems, and wood, miners in leaves; most rhingiines, merodontines and some brachyopines), aquatic filter feeders (the rat-tailed maggots, mainly eristalines, some brachyopines and milesiines) or inquilines in social insect nests of termites, wasps, and bees (some volucellines and merodontines).

Flower fly larva

Flower fly larvae

The family Syrphidae is broken down into 3 subfamily and 15 tribes and contains more than 6,000 described species. Total number of species is much greater

The species that resemble bees are not able to sting or bite, although sometimes they will land on humans to gather moisture in the form of sweat droplets. Many species of flower flies are considered beneficial because their larvae feed on aphids and other pests.

The larvae of a few species of drone flies, called “rat-tailed maggots,” are occasional pests in livestock operations. Some drone fly larvae have also been known to cause intestinal myiasis in humans, but this is very rare in the United States. Some flower fly larvae are important predators of aphids and other pests.

Flower fly

Flower fly

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