Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flies in the Backyard

With over 17,000 species on this continent alone, flies (order Diptera) come in many shapes and sizes. Here are a few that I recently found in the backyard.

On warm days, one can usually see tiny metallic-colored flies flitting among the leaves of vegetation. Many of these are long-legged flies (family Dolichopodidae). These are predatory flies that eat smaller insects like aphids. The individual below is probably from the genus Condostylus.

Here is another long-legged fly. This one is smaller, and its color is gold instead of green, but it has the same basic body shape.

Other flies that frequent vegetation include the dance flies (family Empididae). I believe that this fly is part of that family, though I am not sure of the species or even genus.

Finally, my favorite of the recent group is this insect, which was attracted to the light at the back door. This is a midge, probably in the genus Chironomus. The plumelike antennae are especially striking at such a small scale. The grid lines on the paper form one-eighth-inch squares. Though they superficially resemble mosquitos, Chironomid midges do not bite people.