tachinid fly

(Archytas apicifer)

Conservation Status
tachinid fly (Archytas apicifer)
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

not listed

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Archytas apicifer is medium-sized to large tachinid fly. It occurs in the United States, southern Canada, Mexico, and Central America. It is by far the most common species in the genus Archytas. It is common in Minnesota. Adults feed on a variety of herbaceous plants. Larvae are parasites on the caterpillars of several species of owlet moths (Family Noctuidae).

Adults are to (10 to 15 mm) long.

There are two large compound eyes, one on each side of the head, and three simple eyes (ocelli) in a small triangle on top of the head. The compound eyes on both sexes are bare and are broadly separated at the top of the head. The antennae are are short and have three segments. The first segment is orange and short. The second segment is orange and elongated, much longer than wide. The third segment is black and has a large, black, forward-pointing bristle (arista) at the base. The arista is bare, not feather-like (plumose). The face is silvery-white to off-white. On each side of the face below the antenna there is a sunken area (parafacial) defined by the inner margin of the compound eye on the outside and an inverted V-shaped groove (ptilinal suture) on the inside. The parafacial is silvery-white to off-white with areas tinted brown to black. The hairs on the parafacial are short and off-white to white.

The thorax is olive-gray to yellowish-gray and slightly shiny. It is covered with numerous short, black, bristle-like hairs (setae), and several parallel rows of long black bristles. There is a small black spot on the thorax at the base of each bristle. Three grooves across the thorax delineate the three thoracic sections. The front (anterior) section of the thorax (prescutum) is light on the front half, darker on the back half. There is a black longitudinal stripe on each side of the prescutum in the shoulder (humeral) area that does not reach the front or rear margin, and matching but smaller stripes on the second section (scutum). The sides of the first thoracic section (propleuron) are covered with yellow to off-white hairs.

The abdomen is dark reddish-brown or black and slightly shiny. It often has a metallic bluish tinge.

The wings are mostly clear but the front third is darkened. The fifth radial cell (R5) is narrowed but open at the wingtip.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: to (10 to 15 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

 

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Early spring to late fall

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

The female lays eggs on the foliage. After the eggs hatch, the first stage (instar) larvae wait for a suitable host to pass. Overwintering is determined by the host caterpillar.

 
     
 

Larva Food

 
 

Owlet moth caterpillars

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar of a variety of herbaceous plants

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 27, 29, 30, 82.

 
  12/27/2020      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Diptera (gnats, mosquitoes, true flies)  
 

Suborder

Brachycera (circular-seamed flies, mouches muscoïdes, muscoid flies, short-horned flies)  
 

Infraorder

Muscomorpha  
  No Rank Eremoneura  
  No Rank Cyclorrhapha  
  No Rank Schizophora  
  No Rank Calyptratae  
 

Superfamily

Oestroidea  
 

Family

Tachinidae (tachinid flies)  
 

Subfamily

Tachininae  
 

Tribe

Tachinini  
  Genus Archytas  
 

Subgenus

Archytas  
  No Rank (analis complex)  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Archytas vulgaris

Tachina apicifera

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

This species has no common name. The common name for the family Tachinidae is tachinid flies, and is applied here for convenience.

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Arista

A large bristle on the upper side of the third segment of the antenna of a fly.

 

Instar

The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph.

 

Ocellus

Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.

 

Scutum

The forward (anterior) portion of the middle segment of the thorax (mesonotum) in insects and some arachnids.

 

Seta

A usually rigid bristle- or hair-like outgrowth on butterflies and moths used to sense touch. Plural: setae.

 

 

 

 

 

       
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Alfredo Colon
       
  tachinid fly (Archytas apicifer)   tachinid fly (Archytas apicifer)
       
  tachinid fly (Archytas apicifer)    
       
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Alfredo Colon
8/30/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

tachinid fly (Archytas apicifer)


Alfredo Colon
8/21/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

tachinid fly (Archytas apicifer)


Alfredo Colon
8/8/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

tachinid fly (Archytas apicifer)


     
     
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Created: 12/27/2020

Last Updated:

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