Skip to content

No one was fooled by the mystery pollinator last week.

Although it looks like honey bee, it is actually a flower fly.

This is a honey bee.

The flower fly is a honey bee mimic. If you look closely, the real honey bee has longer antennae, and has four wings rather than two.

Honey bees also have large flattened areas on their hind legs called pollen baskets.

Another difference is that honey bees collect and carry pollen on purpose, whereas flower flies feed on nectar and are accidental pollen carriers.

Regardless, they are both fun to watch!

In the recent post about the insects visiting a Texas sage, one of the photographs showed an adult flower fly.

The adults are called flower or hover flies because they visit flowers for nectar. But where do they come from? This week we'll see more of the life cycle.

Here's an adult fly next to some aphids. What is it doing?

Because the adults drink nectar, it probably isn't eating the aphids.

There's a clue at the end of the abdomen, which the fly has stretched out and is pressing against the plant.

Have an idea now?

It is laying eggs.

The egg will hatch into a larva. We've seen those feeding on aphids in a previous post.

The next stage to capture is the pupa. Stay tuned!

When I visited the yard this morning to take photographs for this post, first I checked to see what was flowering. Flowers are great places to find insects.

The little leaf cordia (Cordia parviflolia) attracted my eye. It was covered with clusters of white blossoms.

The flowers were beautiful, but nothing was visiting them. In contrast, the plant next to it was humming and buzzing.

That's the wolfberry, Lycium species. It isn't much to look at from a human perspective.

From an insect's perspective, however, it was an open grocery store.

The honey bees and digger bees were lining up to sip nectar.

Smaller bees were wrapped around the anthers harvesting pollen.

When it was done, the underside of this one's abdomen was white with pollen.

Snout butterflies visited the flowers, too. They are drab when sitting like this.

Surprise!

Numerous flower flies and a few wasps flitted around. This flower or hover fly has a really big head compared to the rest of its body.

From the street (top photograph) the wolfberry bush looks like a small cluster of brownish branches on the left between the bright green Texas sage on the bottom left and the little leaf cordia. If you didn't know the wolfberry was there, you wouldn't even see it. Just the same, it provides food for hundreds of insects which in turn pollinate our gardens and serve as food for wildlife.

I hope I can continue to convince our homeowner's association that it deserves to stay.