tachinid fly

(Archytas apicifer)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not listed

tachinid fly (Archytas apicifer)

NatureServe

not listed

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common

Flight/Season

Early spring to late fall

Habitat

 

Size

Total Length: to (10 to 15 mm)

Photo by Alfredo Colon
 
Identification

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.

 
Similar
Species

 

 
Larval Food

Owlet moth caterpillars

 
Adult Food

Flower nectar of a variety of herbaceous plants

 
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.

 
Behavior

 

 
Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 24, 27, 29, 30, 82.

 
Comments

 

 
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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