Skip to content

The bug of the week last week was..drum roll...

A flower fly!

I bet some of you were thinking that it was a honey bee. The flower fly has two wings rather than four. Although you might mot be able to see that the honeybee has four, the fly holds it's wings out away from it's body more. The flies have bigger eyes. The antennae of the flower fly come from the middle of the face and are shorter than that of the honey bee. Once you know to look there are a lot of differences.

Flower flies fool people all the time.

See if you can spot the differences:

Honey Bee versus Flower Fly

honey bee

flowerfly

Stalking the wild insects in my garden this morning, I was surprised to find these tiny bugs on my asparagus fern. Do you know what they are? I'll give you some hints. They like cool weather, they tend to build up quickly on the growing tips or buds of plants, and lady beetles love them.

aphids

I also found this fly hovering nearby. At first I thought it was a flower fly (Family Syrphidae). Flower flies lay their eggs near aphids (yes, those are aphids). Their larvae eat aphids, and I find them all the time on infested plants. But flower flies tend to have a shorter, wider abdomen (that is the back section in insects), and mimic bees. I think this one is a thick-headed fly instead (Family Conopidae), because it has a thin waist more like a wasp. One way I can tell she isn't a wasp is the fact she has two wings. Wasps have four.

thickheaded fly

She was definitely laying eggs, as you can see here.

fly

Where do you go to identify unknown insects like this one? One great place to start is whatsthatbug.com.

By the way, I don't need to control these aphids, because they will be gone soon. I spotted flower fly larvae and parasitic wasps already at work. For now they are providing some entertainment and drama in the backyard jungle.