Parasitic Flies Can Save Your Garden
Gardeners are always looking for new ways to protect their cherished plants from hated insect pests. Many gardeners will try to create conditions that are conducive to the survival needs of particular beneficial insects. Insects that prey upon plant pests are always welcome into people’s gardens. One of the most beneficial types of insects to have hanging around your garden are parasitic flies. In fact, with the exception of parasitic wasps, no insect kills a larger variety of insect pests to plants than parasitic flies. There exists twelve known fly families, and they contain thousands of species. Some of these fly species are parasitic, but the parasitic fly family that is most beneficial to garden health is known as Tachinidae.
Most Tachinidae species are endoparasites, which means their larvae infect the internal bodies of their hosts. This fly larvae, or maggots as they are more commonly known, will eat their prey from the inside out. Female Tachinidae species will resort to various tricks in order to make sure that their offspring successfully parasitize other insects. Obviously, female flies want their developing offspring to be exposed to a large amount of food, therefore females will strategically place their eggs in certain areas so that other insects can eventually become infected with parasitic maggots. Some female Tachinidae flies will place their eggs on leaves in order to trick caterpillars into eating them, which will only infect them with the parasitic larvae once the egg hatches within the caterpillars body. Sometimes the females will even forcibly implant her eggs into their insect prey. In other cases, Tachinidae females will simply place their eggs on a host’s body. Once the egg hatches, the maggots will then bore into their host’s bodies where they will complete their development. Parasitic flies most often prey on insects that are in their early life stages. The most common forms of parasitic fly prey include beetles, butterflies, moths, earwigs, grasshoppers, sawflies, and true bugs.
Did you have any idea that flies were so beneficial to the growth of plant life, and the eradication of insect pests?