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Flies That Help Our Garden Grow

Hover Fly. Image Credit EDIS, Roy Frye

Hover Fly. Image Credit EDIS, Roy Frye

When someone mentions flies, we think of buzzing around our heads, maggots in decomposing materials, and unclean conditions. It is time to change those thoughts, at least in the garden. There are several flies commonly found in landscapes that provide a valuable service in pest management. The long-legged fly is a beautiful fly that is normally metallic copper, blue or green. It is very slender with long, thin legs and is common in most gardens. The larvae or maggots can be found in moist soil or rotted vegetation and like the adults are predaceous on aphids, thrips, mites, and other small-bodied arthropods. The hover fly is also found around flowers and has the rare ability to hover and fly backwards. Because of their yellow-striped abdomen and similar coloring, these flies are often mistaken for bees. Adults visit flowers for nectar and help with pollination while the larvae primarily feed on aphids.

The tachinid fly, is similar to the house fly in appearance, but is an excellent parasite of pest caterpillars, beetles and bugs. The adults are gray or black in color with stiff hairs on their bodies. The larvae spend their lives feeding inside the bodies of unwanted insects and are so valuable that exotic tachinids have been introduced into North America as part of biological control programs.
Tachinid Fly. Image Credit UF / IFAS Entomology Department

Tachinid Fly. Image Credit UF / IFAS Entomology Department

For more information on beneficial organisms visit Featured Creatures at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/
To help with on-site identification, Beneficial Bugs ID Cards are avail able at http://ifasbooks.ufl.edu

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