April 10, 2021
We're reaching into the archives for today's #BenInNature update presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust! The following post was originally published on June 9, 2020.
At first glance, this critter might look like some kind of wasp. In fact, it's a fly! This is Pyrgota undata, commonly called the waved light fly. There are about 10 species in the genus Pyrgota, and this one is the most widespread member of the genus.
The female of this species flies around looking for May beetles; once she finds one, she lands on its back, causing it to take flight (sometimes she'll even land on one while it's in flight). Once the beetle's elytra (the hard shell that covers its flight wings) are open, the female waved light fly lays an egg on the beetle's soft back. Over the next two weeks, the fly larva eats the host beetle, pupates inside the beetle's body, and emerges as an adult the following spring. It ain't pretty, but if you have a lot of brown spots on your lawn from May beetle grubs, you might just have a certain appreciation for this unique fly.
Thank you to VMNH Associate Curator of Invertebrate Zoology Dr. Kal Ivanov for confirming this ID!
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (www.cbtcares.com).
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS
If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!