Friday, January 6, 2012

Honey bee attacked by parasitic fly

First, I'll start by posting a link to the original story.  So in case you don't care to link to the original story and just want the highlights, here it goes.

  • So far this has only been found in California and South Dakota.
  • The fly, Apocephalus borealis, lays it's eggs in the abdomen of the honey bee.  Parasitized bees leave the hive and tend to congregate near lights.  After the parasitized bee dies, the fly emerges from the bee.
  • Genetic analysis has shown that the parasites are the same paraistic flies that attack bumble bees.
I've been getting emails from people who are concerned that this fly is the same parasitic fly that attacks fire ants (Solenopsis) and the answer is NO.  While both are in the family Phoridae, they are different species and even different genera.  The phorid fly that attacks Solenopsis is Pseudacteon spp.

Phorids are small to minute in size and have a humpbacked appearance.  Adults can be common in a variety of habitats.  Larvae can occur in fungi or decaying organic matter (both animal & vegetable), while others are internal parasites (or parasitoids) of other insects and still others may lives as parasites or commensals in the nests of termites or ants.  There are hundreds of genera and thousands of species of phorid flies.

For more information on how this may effect honey bee populations, please see this article.