Nature in L.A.

Showing posts with label : fly

August 10, 2016

#Parasiteweek: Bird Blood-suckers

Ventral (underside) viewDorsal (top) view


We have written before about bird louse flies (hippoboscids), but I never get tired of their flat, creepy look. Recently, our ornithology collections manager, Kimball Garrett, contacted me and said "Hey, Brian, are you interested in some hippoboscids from a least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) from Malibu",- of course I was, what an unusual host from which to get hippos (what us entomologists endearingly call them)!

Let me note here that although they are called "bird louse flies, they are actually more like fleas,...

May 24, 2016

War of the Larvae: Ladybug Grub Eats Flower Fly Maggot!

Immature ladybug eating flower fly larva, photo by Brian Brown.

Urban Nature Research Center (UNRC) co-director Dr. Brian Brown recently wandered out of his home into his Monrovia backyard and caught sight of something unexpected on the outside of his insect trap: an immature ladybug (also known as a larva or grub) consuming the larva of a flower fly (also known as a maggot).  The large, tent-like Malaise trap—used in the UNRC's BioSCAN project to collect and study flying insects from multiple sites across Los Angeles—has a sloped, white mesh cover that serves as a perfect backdrop to capture an image of a bristly black and orange ladybug larva mid-meal....

November 23, 2015

Medfly Mayhem: The fly that shook L.A.

Photo by Kelsey Bailey.

Insects inspire wonder, curiosity, fear or disgust, but very few have caused the widespread panic, political controversy, and public outcry like the Mediterranean fruit fly.  Shortly after appearing in California in the early 1980s, the saga of the Medfly erupted into a battle between the Agricultural Industry and the residents of the affected counties, with local politicians wedged firmly in between. As an entomologist from L.A., the aerial spraying of pesticide over the city to combat the Medfly that happened so long ago is still one of the topics I am most often asked about. It is firmly etched in many Angelenos’ memories, but most are unaware of what became of this notorious little fly.
The Mediterranean...

November 18, 2013

Ant-decapitating Fly Found in Glendale!

I just found out we have ant-decapitating flies here in Los Angeles! Dr. Brian Brown, the Museum's Curator of Entomology and one of the world's foremost experts on flies, made a chance discovery by looking right under the nose of an unsuspecting USC student.

It all started last Friday, while we were enjoying a nice stroll through the Nature Gardens. First, we checked out the Malaise trap that Brian and his staff set up as part of the BioSCAN project, which aims to survey the insect biodiversity here in Los Angeles. Then, we headed into the Nature Lab to see insects from this trap, and the 25 others that have been placed all over Los Angeles, being sorted.

As we got close to the demo table, Brian was suddenly transfixed. He'd seen...