As you might know, I like to take my camera with me on my walks. It’s not so much that I think I will take awesome pictures, but I see it as a kind of photo safari – with my camera in my hand I feel like some kind of explorer …… 😉 But seriously, I think I notice more of the things around me, when I’m looking for something interesting to take a picture of.
So a few weeks ago I was on one of my usual walks as I passed a woolly burdock and noticed a small fly near one of its flowers.
I know this is an awful photo, but it’s an illustration of the fact, that I found it quite hard to take a picture
As I looked for some time, I noticed it wasn’t only this one fly – there were several of them. And they were running around quite a lot. It almost looked like they were guarding their flowers against each other.
As I continued my walk – and on several later walks – I came across some more woolly burdocks and on some of them I could also see the same kind of flies.
My curiosity was awakened!
At home I started an internet search and soon found out, that these little flies with their beautiful wings belong to the family of Tephritidae.
First I thought the ones I saw could be Tephritis cometa, but after more reading I found out, that these kind of flies seem to specialise on specific plants. And Tephritis cometa lives on other plants than the woolly burdock. The woolly burdock is host plant for Tephritis bardanae.
As far as I could find online, the females lay their eggs into the young flower buds of the burdock and the larvae feed on the flower heads – which form galls (I haven’t seen any galls (yet 🙂 ).
Here you can see a female Tephritis bardanae with her ovitory (in black) with which she can lay her eggs.
So maybe I was right, maybe the flies really are guarding the flowers, because their offspring is living there…….
And on my next walk I will look for the galls – not sure how they are supposed to look though….do you?