Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Waved Light Fly

This neat looking fellow is a Waved Light Fly, Pyrgota undata.  It is a night flier that is sometimes attracted to light.  During the day, it finds a secluded place to await the return of darkness.  At first glance the coppery color and dark wings suggest a wasp.  Not only does it look like a wasp, the attitude of the wings makes it appear to be an agitated wasp.

The wasp imagery is only fleeting.  The presence of halteres, those short rods capped with white knobs, quickly identifies it as a type of fly.  Halteres are situated behind the wings and function as stabilizers to allow balanced flight.  All flies have them.

The fly also appears to be looking upward with a strange forked tongue appendage emerging from the mouth.  This is another false image.  That is the top of the head, not a mouth.  The protrusions are antennae.

The orientation of the head is much clearer to see from the side.  This is not my first encounter with this species, but it is the first time I’ve found a live specimen.  A fly on the hoof is much more interesting than a desiccated corpse.

The Wavy Light Fly is a parasitic species whose larvae develop inside June Beetles.  The adult fly deposits its egg directly on the beetle.  When the egg hatches, the larva burrows inside and begins feeding.  The beetle eventually dies and the fly larva pupates inside the dead beetle’s body.  I’ll have to start cracking open dead June Beetles to see if I can find a fly pupa.

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