urbpan: (dandelion)
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I was called up to see a tree up in a non-public part of the zoo, which (the thought was) might have a hornet's nest in it. A hornet's nest in a tree is pretty obvious--either it's a big gray paper football, or it's hidden in a big dead cavity in the tree. This was a pretty small elm, with no big holes, no big paper nests, but plenty of wasps and hornets on and around it. However, there were other insects involved as well, such as this Calliphorid carrion fly.

Read more... )
urbpan: (dandelion)
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In terms of beauty, I think flies are the most underappreciated order of insects. Look at this fancy iridescence! I guess it's because they aren't big and showy like butterflies or perfect little capsules like beetles. The fly pictured, Lucilia* sp., also lays its eggs in dead animals so that it's many maggots can feast on the putrescent flesh. Also feces, they like to eat feces. Don't knock the carrion flies, they're doing important work--work that YOU wouldn't do, so someone else has to.

* "born into light"
urbpan: (dandelion)
Every year there's a sudden drop off of visible biodiversity in the North, as cold weather arrives and many of the insects disappear. This year was especially hard on me, as I spent one of the last weeks of the summer in Florida, where insects and spiders and large wading birds and giant reptiles are loose everywhere, all the time as far as I know. Then I came back to Boston on a change of weather day--everyone in Boston thought it was pretty cold compared to the day before, but it was like a 30 degree drop for me. I looked around my yard and it looked like I'd been away for months: the grass was brown, all the sunflowers had come and gone, the perennials and wildflowers had all gone to seed.

I just posted this on tumblr, with a mopey caption:
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It's terribly blurry, but the wing veins are nice and visible, in case any entomologists want to identify it. I know it's a carrion fly but beyond that who knows?
urbpan: (dandelion)
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Hey look, it's Whitey! She's the most skittish of our hens, so it was nice that I got this shot of her as I scattered a little cracked corn.

flies and the Cosmos )
urbpan: (Default)

A green bottle fly (I have no idea what the scientific name of this one is--the last time I posted a picture of one it was identified as Lucilia sericata by Badnoodles--quite possibly the same species, not impossibly another) itself on a rock in our side yard perennial garden.

This fly probably came to my yard to see what the dogs left behind. These insects, along with their relatives the house flies, and the more distant cousins the vinegar (or "fruit") flies are lumped together by pest professionals as "filth flies." In nature they are the clean up crew, attracted to the odors of decomposition and fermentation, obligingly mopping up the mess, albeit with extremely small mop-like mouthparts. Bottle flies lay their eggs on dead animals, and their babies make the carcasses go away. A properly trained pest control professional will tell you the way to control flies is to limit how much you feed them.

A green bottle fly posed as 365 Urban Species #132.
urbpan: (dandelion)

Photos by [livejournal.com profile] cottonmanifesto

Urban species #132: Green bottle fly Phaenicia sericata

Despite yourself, you must admit this is a beautiful animal. Feeding on a variety of organic wastes, and depositing its eggs on the carcasses of animals, it does not live what we would call a lovely life. But blow flies, of which the green bottle fly is but one of many, are the front line on the important job of disposing of corpses. Their ability to detect the recently dead is so acute, that they are invariably the first animals to visit. Forensic entomologists have noted these flies appearing within two minutes of the appearance of a carcass, in experiments. These scientists use blow flies, who have very specific temperature needs for their eggs and larvae, to precisely determine time of death in investigations.

The average city dweller is most likely to notice green bottle flies on a ripe bag of garbage, or a pile of dog waste. In cities with poor sanitation, green bottle flies could potentially be a serious disease vector. The problem of myiasis, mentioned earlier in this series is much more of a risk with this species than with, for example, the little house fly. But the fact that this fly's larvae eats dead flesh has been used medically (disturbing image behind cut): the maggots are applied to necrotic wounds, and feed on the dead tissue, leaving living tissue alone.

Identification by [livejournal.com profile] badnoodles. (hey, noodles, I assume Phaenicia sericata and Lucilia sericata are synonyms?)

More flies! )


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