Tag Archives: fly

All eyes, no head…


…what kind of fly is this?

Update 08/05/2013:

Thanks to Morgan Jackson, who has come through with an ID – this is a spider fly (Acroceridae), also known as  hunchback-flies or small-headed flies.

From Wikipedia:

As far as is known all Acroceridae are parasitoids of spiders. They are most commonly collected when a spider from the field is brought into captivity. As in the related families, Bombyliidae and Nestrinidae, members of the family undergo hypermetamorphosis; the adults do not seek out their hosts; instead the first instar larvae is a planidium. In the Acroceridae the planidia seek out spiders. They do not resemble the triungulin of most beetles with a hypermetamorphosis, but do resemble the triungulin of Stylops. The larva can move with a looping movement like a leech or inchworm, and can leap several millimetres into the air. When a spider contacts an acrocerid planidium, the planidium grabs hold, crawls up the spider’s legs to its body, and forces its way through the body wall, usually at an articulation membrane. Often it lodges near a book lung, where it may remain for years before completing its development.

The adults of most species, like various members of the Tabanidae, Nemestrinidae and Bombyliidae, are nectar feeders with exceptionally long proboscises, sometimes longer than the entire bodily length of the insect. Unlike the other families however, when not deploying the proboscis for feeding, the Acroceridae carry it lengthwise medially beneath the body, instead of projecting forward. As a result the proboscis might escape casual notice, though careful inspection may reveal it projecting slightly behind the abdomen.

Another cool parasite!

(Found in the Saskatchewan River Valley, Edmonton.17 August, 2011)


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Posted in Acroceridae., Alberta, Bugs, Canada, Diptera, Edmonton, Insect, macro, Season, Summer Also tagged , |

Name this Fly

First attempt  at doing a focus stack with microscope images.

Last week a began setting-up for taking images through a second-hand microscope that I obtained many years ago. This is not a great photograph, but it is my first attempt at a focus stack using images made through a microscope. I have since found out a few ways that should improve the quality, but I thought I would post this to see if any Dipterists out there could figure out the ID from just the genitalia. Any takers?

Originally I was going to name this post “Name these Stacked Genitals”, but I don’t really want to compete for popularity with the Beetle-poop Geek. 😉

More details on the equipment/techniques (and lack there-of) later.

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Posted in Alberta, Anatomy, Canada, Crappy, Diptera, Diversion, Edmonton, Entomology, Fun, Insect, Microscopy, photography, Winter Also tagged , , , , , |

Ento. 101: Wing Structure and Venation

"Conehead wings pinned"

The saga continues: Entomology 101: Wing Structure and Wing Venation.

In the last section I introduced insect wings and will now move on to look at wing structure and venation. This post will confine itself to the essentials, with a more detailed look at variations in wing structure when I cover the insect orders in the chapter on diversity.

The wings connect to the thorax at three points, with various forms of axillae, which are stiff plates (sclerites) of cuticle that are activated by muscle movements in the thorax. Wings consist of two layers of cuticular membrane which sandwich a framework of veins through which hemolymph flows. The veins are also sclerotized and provide a strengthening structure to the wing. Other features of the wings include fold lines and lines of flexion. In some orders, the fore and hind wings move together as one when in flight, facilitated by various linking mechanisms.

Wing venation and the lines of folding and flexion all contribute to patterns that can assist in identification. The lines of venation have been ‘mapped’ with a common terminology called the Comstock-Needham system, which recognises the homology of wing veins across the insect orders. The Comstock–Needham system was developed by  John Comstock and George Needham in 1898,  and today it is variations of that system that are mostly used by entomologists. The Evolution of Insects goes with the Wootton variation (1979) which I follow below, while others may favour the Kukalova´-Peck variation. Continue reading »

Posted in Diptera, Entomology, Entomology 101, Insect, invertebrates, Science Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

You’re Not

"Tachinid Fly, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta."

Why not?

(Photographed on a sign at a in-situ dinosaur fossil display, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta.)

Posted in Alberta, Diptera, Insect, macro, Provincial Park, Summer, Tachinidae, White Studio Also tagged |

Conopid Capture Capture


Conopid Fly with 'Prey'

Deep in the foliage at the back of the garden border I glimpsed a distorted pattern on one of the leaves. Looking closer I saw that it was a Conopid fly (probably Physocephala furcillata) with another captured Conopid. Otherwise known as Thick-headed flies, this particular species is a known parasite of solitary bees. I don’t know whether this was an attempt at parasitism (note extended ovipositor) or a territorial battle, but when my flash bumped the leaves, both flew off. One sped out of the garden and the other resumed its post near the flowers.

Conopid on Duty

From Wikipedia:

The larvae of all conopids are internal parasites, most of aculeate (stinging) Hymenoptera. Adult females aggressively intercept and deposit eggs on their hosts in-flight, and the female’s abdomen is modified to form what amounts to a “can opener” to pry open the segments of the host’s abdomen as the egg is inserted.

Posted in Diptera, garden, Parasitism, Summer, Web LInk Also tagged , , , , , |