#206 Thick Headed Fly (Family Conopidae)

21 September

A family of flies within the Brachycera suborder of Diptera, and the sole member of the superfamily Conopoidea. Flies of the family Conopidae are distributed worldwide in all the ecozones except for the poles and many of the Pacific islands. About 800 species in 47 genera are described worldwide, about 70 of which are found in North America. The majority of conopids are black and yellow, or black and white, and often strikingly resemble wasps, bees, or flies of the family Syrphidae, themselves notable bee mimics. A conopid is most frequently found at flowers, feeding on nectar with its proboscis, which is often long.

The larvae of all conopids are internal parasites, most of aculeate (stinging) Hymenoptera. Adult females aggressively intercept their hosts in flight to deposit eggs. Accordingly, in the species Bombus terrestris, it has been shown that vulnerable foraging bees are likely the most susceptible to parasitism by conopids. The female’s abdomen is modified to form what amounts to a “can opener” to pry open the segments of the host’s abdomen as the egg is inserted

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