Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Phorid Flies and Honey Bees

The poor honey bee just can't seem to catch a break. This extremely important insect has a new enemy that appears to be damaging colonies in California and South Dakota ONLY. Our Texas bees are fine for now.

This new bee parasite is a phorid fly. The species is NOT the same one that attacks fire ants. You may be familiar with stories of phorid fly releases in Texas for fire ant management. These are completely different species than the phorid flies that use bees as a host.

Parasitoids, like phorid flies, are extremely host specific. They cannot parasitize anything other than their host - they simply will not survive. In many times they can't even lay their eggs in other insects or animals.

The phorid fly, Apocephalus borealis, lays is egg in a bees abdomen. A week later the bee dies, but not before abandoning their hive. The fly will emerge from the bees head or thorax. Remember, this is not a Texas problem and NOT the same phorid fly that attack fire ants. But still, an interesting insect story to start out our new year!

For more information on this new bug story, visit

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