Pollinator of the Month: Margined calligrapher (Toxomerus marginatus)

The margined calligrapher (Toxomerus marginatus) belongs to the order of flies (Diptera), which is one of the most diverse groups of insects. More specifically, they belong in the hoverfly or flower fly family (Syrphidae). The name hoverfly comes from their ability to hover when flying, which is used during mating or feeding. The name flower fly may come from the fact that they are commonly seen pollinating flowers. There are about 900 species of hoverflies in North America.

Hoverflies typically mimic bees or wasps with their yellow and black striped abdomens. This is a form of Batesian mimicry, where a harmless organism resembles a harmful one to reduce its risk of predation. Hoverflies can be distinguished from bees or wasps as they only have one pair of wings, whereas bees and wasps have two pairs of wings. Hoverflies also have bigger eyes that are located at the front of their heads while wasps and bees have smaller eyes that are located at the sides of their heads. Hoverflies also have shorter antennae than wasps and bees. Hoverflies do not have stingers, and they are actually beneficial insects that eat plant pests and pollinate flowers.

The margined calligrapher (Toxomerus marginatus) belongs to a genus commonly referred to as the calligrapher flies, named for the fine black etchings found on their abdomens. These markings on the margined calligrapher form a closed margins around the sections of their abdomens. These markings help them mimic wasps or bees, however they are smaller than bees as they are typically only 5 to 6 mm. The female margined calligrapher can be distinguished from the males as the females eyes do not touch but the males eyes do. The margined calligrapher is found throughout North America, including Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The adult margined calligraphers eat nectar, which gives them an incentive to visit and pollinate flowers. They visit flowers such as spiderwort, calico aster, groundsel, and whiteweed. The larvae, who are a light yellowish green, eat soft bodied insects which tend to be plant pests, including aphids and thrips. As the larvae feed on pests, the margined calligrapher can be considered a biological control agent.


הועלה ב-מרץ 24, 2024 12:12 לפנה"צ על ידי kiarra13 kiarra13


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