Bichos Argentinos #1 – Eristalinus taeniops

Eristalinus taeniops - a hover fly in the family Syrphidae

It figures that perhaps the most striking insect I saw at La Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina would be an introduced species, as the area itself is a man-made reconstruction of the wet Pampas grasslands endemic to coastal areas of the Rio de la Plata.  My identification of this fly as Eristalinus taeniops is based on its great resemblance to the many online photographs that exist from both South America and the U.S. and also the Old World where it is apparently native.  I found no more authoritative sources with which to confirm the ID, so this online comparative will have to do (muscophiles feel free to comment or correct). 

According to BugGuide, E. taeniops is a recent import to the U.S. from Africa, and in fact it has apparently successfully invaded much of the world.  I suppose most folks will be inclined to forgive the fly for all this because of its strikingly patterned eyes, which I would have dearly loved to have gotten in tight for a closeup.  This shot with the 100mm lens dialed in to the max (and only slightly cropped for composition), however, was the only one I managed – the fly bolted as I quickly tried to switch to the 65mm lens, and although I saw two more individuals afterwards, I couldn’t get anywhere close to them in the day’s heat.  Eyes notwithstanding, the species is a near perfect mimic of a honey bee, making one wonder what selective pressures drove the development of these fantastically contrasting eyes.

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011

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