The results are in! After a night spent cooking in the iNaturalist.org forum, our photo of the mysterious native bee look-alike produced a genus type thanks to the keen knowledge of a gentleman naturalist who is a regular editor for Bugguide.net. And the results are…
…Allograpta! Otherwise known as hover, flower or syrphid flies. My three littles were so excited to hear the news, and were even more excited to know that the fly’s babies are deliberately laid amongst aphid colonies because it is their favorite food. (We’ve already witnessed the results of aphid voraciousness in past seasons.) I had read that coreopsis attracts pollinators with larva that prey on garden pests, but I did not expect such quick results. The coreopsis plant “supports Conservation Biological Control (A plant that attracts predatory or parasitoid insects that prey upon pest insects),” Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, University of Texas at Austin.
On closer examination I do remember seeing these fascinating winged creatures hovering in the gardens of my youth, and again wondering, fly or bee? Thanks to a little push from my kids to explore more out of doors, a little time taken to observe the precious intricacies of our garden, and the benefits of naturalist forums, this family has made a connection with the wonders of one unique fly. The photo still cooks amongst “Allograpta experts” if they bare an interest in identifying it in further detail, because apparently there are so many more variations in this genus and of course species. So keep your eyes open for this beneficial bee/wasp impersonating fly character whose babies might just save your garden in the most organic way.
…After reading through several layman’s descriptions of this family of insects, I found these resources most useful:
“Hover, Flower or Syrphid Flies (Syrphidae)”, Master Gardener Program article, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Species Allograpta obliqua – Common Oblique Syrphid, Bugguide.net