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!
A few weeks ago, the wolfberry was in bloom and covered with insect visitors.
Today the Texas sage is blanketed with flowers.
We had a lot of rain this month, and Texas sage plants bloom in response to humidity and rain.
The insects respond, too.
The thumb-sized carpenter bees caught my eye, but they were too fast for a close up.
Does this look like a honey bee?
Surprise! It is a syrphid fly. It was more cooperative and sat still for its photograph.
Here's another smaller syrphid fly (sometimes called a flower fly.) It also posed.
The honey bees looked strange. Instead of the usual golden brown, most were covered with white pollen.
Would you believe the thorax of this sweat bee is bright green?
It looks like it is covered with snow.
All these insects are pollinators, which means they carry pollen from plant to plant and help many types of plants produce viable seeds. Some recent reports have shown that pollinators may need extra assistance in order to survive and thrive. Check out a recent article which suggests being messy in the garden is a good way to provide places for pollinators to shelter over winter.
Messy? That's easy to do!
Aphids are a sure sign of spring and with aphids come a host of other insects that depend on them for food.
Take this insect near the bright orange-yellow oleander aphids on the rush milkweed. It looks a bit like a wasp with its ultra-thin "waist", but its actually a fly, becuase it has two wings rather than four.
A few seconds before it laid an egg among the aphids.
It is Dioprosopa clavata, a type of flower fly (family Syrphidae). Another common name is aphid fly, because its larvae eat aphids. In fact, if you look up a bit on the stem to the right of the fly, there's an older flower fly larva.
Here's a closer view of another flower fly larva sitting on the bud of a rush milkweed flower.
The larva will pupate soon and become an adult aphid fly, so the cycle will continue. It is the life cycle of a family of specialist flies, based entirely on a few aphids on a milkweed plant.