Sunday, March 18, 2012

Flower Flies

It is technically still winter, but warm temperatures and blossoming flowers say it's spring in Brooklyn. And flower flies are back!
Flies are not all creatures of garbage and decay. Flower flies visit flowers to eat pollen or drink nectar. There are about 6000 kinds worldwide and many of them are beautiful. They are also called hover flies, for their helicopter-like flight, and syrphid flies or syrphids for their scientific family, Syrphidae.

Black-and-yellow colored flower flies are often mistaken for wasps or bees. That's all according to plan! They are Batesian mimics; although they are harmless, they resemble more dangerous insects. Predators are likely to leave them alone and look for easier prey.

A wing count tells us that they are flies, with just two wings; if they were bees or wasps they would have four. Look closely at newly opened flowers and you will probably find flower flies.