- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
They're hairy. They're bristly. They're attention-getters.
They probably draw more "yecchs!" than most insects. All the more reason to love 'em.
Frankly, the tachinids (family Tachinidae, order Diptera) could never be misidentified as honey bees, as some pollinators such as hover flies, are. And yes, flies can be pollinators.
Entomologists tell us that worldwide, there are more than 8,200 identified species, and more than 1300 species in North America alone. Who knows how many more are out there?
The 2011 State of Observed Species (also called SOS), issued Jan. 18 by the International Institute for Species Exploration, Tempe, Ariz., lists 19,232 newly discovered species. Of that number, more than half--9,738--are insects. Those figures are already out of date. These newly discovered species were identified in 2009, the latest year statistics are available. It "takes up to two years to compile all newly reported species from thousands pf journals published in many languages," the SOS team says.
Check out the report, billed as "A Report Card on Our Knowledge of Earth's Species."
Who knows? If you're crawling around a flower bed, you might just discover a new tachinid.