Tachinid Flies

Family Tachinidae

Tachinid Flies.

Just what you wanted to read about, flies.

However, these flies aren't your everyday housefly,

The Family Tachinidae is considered the largest amongst all the diverse families of Diptera (two-winged true flies).

Recent science shows approximately 8,200 species worldwide.

Over 1,300 species have been recorded in North America, making the tachinids the second largest family of Diptera on this continent.

Adult Tachinid Flies are diverse in appearance, but they are generally known for their bristly faces.

All Tachinidae share the parasitoid habit, and almost all of them are endoparasites of other insects; in spite of their varied appearance all species of Tachinidae are alike in this characteristic.

Tachinid Fly

About the size of houseflies, most species are primary, solitary, endoparasitoids, but some are gregarious parasitoids. They have a wide host range, with all major groups of insects serving as hosts.

They have a wide host range, with all major groups of insects serving as hosts.

The reproduction method of these flies may sound cruel, but this fly plays an important part in limiting the populations of other insects often considered pests.

The flies can be large or small, colorful or drab. There are some species of Tachinid flies that are bright orange, metallic blue, or green, and others are plain looking grey or black.

There are also Tachinid fly species that mimic wasps.

Tachinid Flies are technically parasitoids rather than parasitic, the difference being that parasitoids usually kill their host while parasites usually do not.

Adult flies feed on nectar or the honeydew produced by aphids, but the larvae of Tachinids feed on a living host.

They may glue their eggs to their host or lay their eggs on foliage where the host larvae will eat them.

Some have ovipositors with which they inject their eggs directly into the unsuspecting host’s body.

Insects most commonly parasitized by these beneficial flies are the larvae of the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) and the adults and larval form of the beetles, or Coleoptera.

Other tachinids attack true bugs of the Hemiptera (Heteroptera), larva of Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, ants, sawflies), or adults of Orthoptera (grasshoppers, katydids, crickets and their kin).

Tachinid eggs on Larvae

Rarely do Tachinidae parasitize other Diptera or any other groups of arthropods, however, some of these flies are known to attack woodlice (Isopoda).

Few Tachinids are known to be host-specific, although some species are generalists. Many tachinids will attack insect hosts in 2 or more different orders.

Many parasitize major agricultural pests of food or timber crops, and have potential for use as biological control agents, but most attempts at using them in such wise have been dismal failures.

Among the methods Tachinids use to infect their subjects are the oviparous species that place large, macrotype eggs directly on the body of the host, the micro-oviparous, which place tiny, microtype eggs on foliage or other foodstuffs being consumed by the host, or the larviparous, which retain their eggs until maturity; these eggs hatch immediately upon being laid on or near the target.

Some Female Tachinidae that attack bugs or beetles have piercing ovipositors much like wasps in the Hymenoptera family Ichneumonidae.

Adult flies can be found almost anywhere. I usually see them feeding at flowers or amongst low vegetation.

Females frequently fly in search of host candidates.

Tachinid Flies and Other Beneficial Insects

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