Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Fly Went By

Photo from 11-21-07

We've had some pretty chilly weather here in the last week and there's more to come (for the next four months), but the Calendula officinalis is still hanging in there. This syrphid fly or hover fly (Eristalis sp.) is taking advantage of them, too. I see these insects all the time in the garden and I always thought they were bees. They look very much like them, but they're flies.

How to tell the difference?

  • Bees have two sets of wings; flies have just one set
  • Bees have long antennae; flies' antennae are stubby
  • Bees have simple eyes; flies have large compound eyes

These flies are very beneficial to the garden, not only as pollinators, but for their voracious appetite aiding in garden pest control. In their larval form, they consume thrips, mites, and copious amounts of aphids. After about four weeks of eating aphids until the leaf they're on can't support them anymore, they drop to the ground and pupate. About two weeks later, they emerge as adults, where they fly around the garden in search of pollen and nectar-rich plants such as lovage, dill and yarrow. We had all three of these in our garden, and they clearly love the Calendula. In fact, herbs are their favorite source of nourishment.

Our friend in the picture is a female syrphid. We know, because her eyes don't meet in the middle as the male's do.

Another great thing about hover flies - they don't bite or sting!


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have hover flies in the garden too. That must mean I have the smorgasbord of pests they like to eat. :/

The calendula is a welcome sight as most all is brown in my garden now.

Unknown said...

Great photos, Kylee...and I'm SURE there's a comment to be made in there about the male flies eyes meeting in the middle, but I don't think I'll touch it....not today, anyway (after all, I do have roses in my office!)

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

I LOVE the first photo! So clear and perfectly composed. I never knew the difference between these flies and bees, but now I do! Thank you! Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Katie said...

Great photos and info Kylee! Thanks for the lesson...

Unknown said...

HUH... I always thought that they were bees, too! Thanks for teaching me something new today. :)

Jessica said...

how cool! I've learned something new already this morning:) Love the pictures!!

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