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Tachinid flies (family Tachinidae) is by far the largest and most important group of insect parasitic flies, with over 1300 species in North America. All species are parasitic in the larval stage, and many are important natural enemies of major pests.
Adult tachinid flies can resemble houseflies, but vary by species in size, coloration and shape. Many are gray or black or have bodies marked with stripes and have distinct long bristles on the ends of their abdomens. Some species are brightly colored.
Most species are gray to black, hairy-bodied, have a long, narrow, tapering abdomen containing segments that may be banded, patterned or contrasting in color. The heads of adults have a depression between the eyes when viewed from the front. They have long, strong legs for grabbing prey
Voria ruralis attacks various species of moths in the families Noctuidae and Pyralidae. Adult females lay one or several eggs into the host which quickly hatch and the maggot consumes the host internally. After killing its host, the larvae emerge, drop to the ground, and form oblong pupae, which are dark red and 8 mm (1/3 inch) long.
Tachinid fly larvae
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 : The life history of different species can vary considerably.Some tachinid flies complete only one generation a year, spending much of the season in the pupal stage. Others have several generations and complete the life cycle in 3 to 4 weeks.
Adults emerge in the spring and feed on insect honeydew and flower nectar. After mating, the female begins searching for hosts. Many tachinid fly species that lay eggs deposit them directly on or in the body of their host. However, some simply deposit their eggs on the host’s food plant and leave it up to the larvae to find suitable victims. Many tachinid flies do not lay eggs. Instead, they deposit young larvae on, in or near their hosts.
The young larvae feed their way into their hosts, where they chew on the gut wall. Usually, a single larva develops inside an individual host insect. Many tachinid larvae almost totally consume the host insect before they bore out of the host to pupate and complete the generation. Usually the tachinid larva will leave the host pupa, forming its own pupa close by.
This is a very important family in natural control of many pests, and many have been introduced and successfully established in biological control programs. However, none are currently being sold commercially. The following tachinid flies, and many others not mentioned, can be important in natural control.
Tachinid Fly Attack
This tachinid fly attacks the cabbage looper caterpillar. The female flies lay eggs on a caterpillar and one or more maggots develop within the host. Death does not occur until the caterpillar is fully grown, so the parasite reduces neither the feeding period nor the damage. In Wisconsin parasitism of the cabbage looper by this fly is variable, ranging from 0% to 45% with an average of 16%. Natural populations do not provide effective control of cabbage looper on commercially grown vegetables
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