What are you having for Thanksgiving?
Turkey and all the trimmings?
Well, this little jumping spider had his sights set on ambushing a delicious syrphid fly.
Here's the scenario: The syrphid fly, a pollinator, hovers over a zinnia, sees no danger (the spider is tucked beneath a petal) and touches down. Ms. Fly slurps the nectar--ooh, that's good--and circles the blossom for more.
Ms. Fly, so busy slurping, is unaware that danger lurks with eight legs, excellent acuity and powerful leg muscles.
In a flash, Mr. Jumping Spider leaps.
No meal today for Mr. Jumping Spider. Another day for Ms. Fly.
It's Friday Fly Day and time to post a syrphid fly with a butterfly.
The occasion: a syrphid fly and the Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) or passion butterfly are sharing a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifola, and neither seems bothered that the other is there.
Holes in the petals indicate that another insect, perhaps a spotted cucumber beetle, had been there.
The Mexican sunflower is like a giant floral billboard in a pollinator garden.
"Hey, insects, here I am. Come visit me. I have pollen and nectar for you. I just ask for your pollination services. I can't give you a hug or a certificate of appreciation or even a participation trophy, but I can give you a thank you in the form of free pollen and nectar. That's your reward. And tell all your friends that I am here. I am the billboard in the pollinator garden."
Happy Friday Fly Day.
To be a fly on Friday, what a day!
Entomologists who came up with "Friday Fly Day" are having a lot of fun posting images on social media of flies on Friday.
If you access WikiHow, "What to Do on a Friday Night," you'll find all kinds of suggestions. For instance:
- Watch a movie (that's do-able)
- Challenge friends to a game night (does anybody play games any more?)
- Treat yourself to a spa at home (a spa?)
- Give yourself a makeover (a what?)
- Cook a nice meal (how nice is nice?)
- Treat yourself to cocktail (some of us prefer coffee or water)
- Read a book or a magazine (did that, already)
- Start a new hobby (who has the time? Other hobbies are failing)
- Pamper your pet (he's already pampered; he has his own Facebook page, Vito and His Friends)
- Throw a karaoke or dance party (the neighbors would not like that)
- Work on an artistic or crafty project (some of us are crafty but not artistic)
- Start a bonfire (not in California!)
- Do something physically active (stationary bikes are good)
- and on and on and on....
Nowhere, but nowhere, does it say to take an image of a fly on Friday.
It doesn't have to be a fly on a wall. It can be a fly on a flower. But it has to be a fly on a Friday.
This one is a syrphid fly, aka flower fly or hover fly (and often mistaken for a honey bee) foraging on a blanket flower, or Gaillardia.
Gaillardia, a genus in the sunflower family, Asteraceae, is named for an 18th century French magistrate/botanist, Maître Gaillard de Charentonneau.
Maître Gaillard de Charentonneau, no doubt, never observed Friday Fly Day but being a botanist, he probably loved pollinators.
Cheers to a syrphid fly on "his" flower. (Well, it is a pollinator)
Hello, Friday Fly Day!
It's time to post an image of syrphid fly, aka hover fly or flower fly.
We took this dorsal view of a syrphid fly in January of 2009.
This syrphid fly, probably as Syrphus opinator, was warming its flight muscles in the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden, part of the 100-acre UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. These flies are often mistaken for honey bees.
Interested in flower flies and their biological control roles? You'll want to read entomologist Robert Bugg's piece on "Flower Flies (Syrphidae) and Other Biological Control Agents for Aphids in Vegetable Crops" (Publication 8285, May 2008, University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.) Bugg, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, and his four co-authors illustrated the 25-page research article with photos that will help you recognize many of the syrphids.
At the time Bugg was a senior analyst, agricutural ecology, UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, UC Davis. Perfect name for an entomologist, don't you think?
Happy Friday Fly Day!
It's Friday Fly Day!
And what better day than a Friday to post an image of a syrphid fly nectaring on a tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii? We all need "pretty" in our lives.
Syrphid flies, also known as "flower flies" and "hover flies," are pollinators that hover over a blossom before touching down.
"Most species are predaceous, most commonly on aphids or mealybugs," according to the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. "Some syrphids prey on ants, caterpillars, froghoppers, psyllids, scales, other insects, or mites. About 100 to 400 aphids can be fed upon by each aphid-feeding larva before it pupates, but this varies by the mature size of the syrphid relative to the aphids' size."
Folks who assume that every critter they see in, on, or around a flower is a honey bee should know a couple of distinguishing features: bees don't hover, and syrphids have only one pair of wings, while bees have two. "Their large eyes and short antenna also give them away," notes Kelly Rourke in her U.S. Forest Service article on "Syrphid Fly (Sphaerophoria philanthus). "The absence of pollinium, or pollen sacs, is more difficult to see, but is another difference from a bee. Of the nearly 900 species of flower flies (family Syrphidae) in North America, most have yellow and black stripes."
Happy Friday Fly Day!