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Garden Allies: Tachinid Flies

Articles: Garden Allies: Tachinid Flies

Bombyliopsis abrupta. Illus: Craig Latker

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Husbands, we are told, should give their wives flowers, chocolates, or other romantic gifts. Instead, my husband once presented me with an enormous tachinid fly that he had caught at work. What an inspired gift! I was far more impressed with the fact that he had caught such a robust and rapid flyer with a small-mouthed bottle than I would have been with an easily purchased bouquet, and I continue to be appreciative of the laugh the story elicits.

The bristly fly he caught, Bombyliopsis abrupta, is our largest West Coast tachinid, and readily recognizable (one entomology student commented that it looked like it should be riding a Harley, and I have ever after called it Harry Tachina). Most tachinids, however, are not so easily discerned from other flies, and many superficially resemble the common housefly. Tachinids serve as a perfect example of why it is a good idea to encourage overall insect diversity in the garden, avoid the use of pesticides, and enhance populations of natural enemies—the beneficial insects and other organisms w...

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