WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on Jun 30th, 2009

Thick Headed Fly

Jun 30

‘Stupid fly’ is probably a phrase that has slipped through nearly everyone’s lips at one time or another. I know I’ve used it countless times after being pestered by one. My wife, kids and friends have all been heard saying it. So here’s one that won’t have you thinking either ‘stupid’ or ‘fly’. If ‘stinging’ or ‘wasp’ are the first things that come to mind when seeing it I wouldn’t be surprised. That was my first impression when I saw it.

Family Conopidae – Thick-headed Flies

Thick headed fly - Family Conopidae

These flies look like small thread-waisted wasps. But if you look close before running away you’ll see something that the wasps don’t have. Thick headed flies have a proboscis worthy of sticking into any flower’s business end. So the best chance of finding this fly is to take the time and go smell the flowers. You might just catch one feeding on nectar.

Thick Headed Fly - Conopidae

There is no reason to be afraid of these flies unless you happen to host a birthday party for their young. Female flies in the genus Physoconops lay their eggs on host species while in flight. When the eggs hatch the larvae bore into the host then eat their way back out. I guess that’s why they’re considered internal parasites of bumblebees and wasps.

5 Responses

  1. rainfield Says:

    I do not know why it is called a stupid fly, but it looks very ugly. Quite interesting to learn about the proboscis which stick the fly onto a flower.

  2. Meems @ HoeandShovel Says:

    Really nice shots and good information Mr. Wise. I am trying diligently to learn my bugs. I’m pretty sure I saw this one this spring in my veggie garden… will have to go back and look at all the photos I took to compare. With an emphasis placed on attracting good bugs it’s important to know which ones are. Your close up has given me a good visual on another good one. So interesting.

    You must be enjoying summer by now… it is miserably hot here and we are looking to autumn with great anticipation already. So very different climates we are in. 🙂

  3. peppylady Says:

    What strange looking varmint. I don’t know if our flies looks that strange or not.

    Coffee is on.

  4. cindee Says:

    Eww.. The story of its lifecycle. Can’t imagine being a host for that! Yikes!!!

  5. Drax Says:

    Just found one in my store chilling on an office chair display. We sometimes get wasps, not sure how they get in, and I was about to escort this one outside. I noticed it looked odd, and got a closer look, spotting the single pair of wings which flies have, as opposed to the two wasps and bees have.

    “You aren’t a wasp, you’re a fly aren’t you?” I told the critter. He apparently took offense to being called a fly, and lazily flew away. Very strange creature. I’ve seen flies that look like bees, but never one that had a wasp shape before.