Tag: flies (Page 2 of 3)

Bug of the Week: Stilt-legged Flies

A teacher friend last week suggested he could show images from Bug of the Week to his class via a SmartBoard and ask students for insights into what they see (Great idea, Jeff!)

stiltlegged-fly-Rainieria antennaepes-34This insect (from the archives and from western New York state) would be perfect for that kind of student exploration.

First, you might want to ask what kind of insect it is. Is it a wasp? An ant? Or a fly?


Here’s a closer view. Why does this insect have red eyes? Why do you think it has such long legs? What are those orange marks on its legs?

In case you don’t recognize it, the insect above is a stilt-legged fly, Rainieria antennaepes. Most experts think it is a parasitoid wasp mimic (like this one), but some of its relatives are ant mimics.

Although it is not readily apparent in these photographs, the tarsi or “feet” of the front legs are white. The insect holds its front legs out in front of itself and waves them around like antennae. The species name antennaepes means antenna foot, referring to this behavior.

You can see a fly of a closely-related species waving its front legs in this video. Keep alert for one scene that shows what the adult flies feed on. Look closely at the front of the head where the sponging mouthparts are found.

Did you see it? The adult flies feed on bird droppings and similar wastes.

Isn’t that an interesting fly?

Bug of the Week: Flies Not in Flight

Early this morning I noticed a number of different flies perched on leaves.

Take this little fellow. It looks like a small version of a house fly.

Is it a “baby” fly?

That was a trick question. “Baby” flies are larvae and pupae. This fly is an adult; it is simply a different species.

Most flies have large eyes, but the head and eyes of this one are smaller relative to the thorax than the species above.

The fly in this photograph looks like a tiny, dark-brown fruit fly. Fruit flies have bright red eyes, but this fly has brown eyes.

Do you have any idea why these flies are sitting on leaves?

Some of the flies are likely basking to warm up in the morning sun. Some might be watching and waiting for potential mates to fly by.  The shiny green long-legged flies, however, are on the hunt.

Long-legged flies feed on other insects like tiny leafhoppers. The flies perch on and search leaves looking for a meal.

Have you ever watched flies perched on leaves? What were they doing?

« Older posts Newer posts »