Newly Appearing Insects

by Carl Strang

The weather rollercoaster we have been experiencing (for instance, last week’s drop of 40 degrees F in less than 24 hours) has not deterred insects from stepping onto the stage at Mayslake Forest Preserve. Some of these have been familiar, and more or less on time compared to earlier years.

The viceroy butterfly is not particularly common at Mayslake, and I have found it hard to approach. This one, for a change, held still long enough for a photo.

Another expected species is the jade clubtail.

Usually these perch on shore, or on a log or rock protruding from the water, but an algal mat sufficed for this one.

Totally new to my experience was this insect.

At first glance I thought it might be an unfamiliar bumblebee.

Then, having found it to be a fly, I was going to call it a robber fly.

Many robber flies are bumblebee mimics, but this insect lacked the predatory beak.

A search of my references placed it in the syrphid fly family, but there were at least 4 genera that might fit, and my photos didn’t provide enough detail for me to narrow it down. The densely orange hairy thorax was unlike any species I could find.

Most photos were, sadly, blurry like this. Clear images of the antennae and wing veins would have been most helpful.

I submitted a photo to Bug Guide, hoping someone there would recognize this species. Within two days someone posted an answer that fits perfectly. It is a European import, the narcissus bulb fly, Merodon equestris. The only member of its genus in the U.S., its larvae are pests of daffodil and lily bulbs. The thorax color is highly variable, which is why it was difficult to find an exact match.


  1. jomegat said,

    June 14, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Yay for Bug Guide! 🙂

  2. September 16, 2011 at 6:28 am

    […] a bee mimic, as was the case in the narcissus bulb flower fly I featured earlier in the season. The other abundant species of recent days meets the criteria for […]

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