Fly on cactus, associated with Cochineal - Leucopis bellula
Peters Canyon, Orange, Orange County, California, USA December 29, 2009 Size: guess ~3mm
Common name for this fly's family: aphid flies. Family members also prey on mealy bugs and, in the case of this particular Leucopsis sp., scale insects. The fly's larvae are the predators and, besides a satisfying meal of cochineal insects, they benefit from incorporating the prey's carminic acid into their own defensive systems. The fly ejects the acid along with rectal fluid, a substance which ants just hate. (Any ant will tell you that!)
Contributed by Ron Hemberger on 29 December, 2009 - 10:18pm Last updated 24 December, 2010 - 5:40pm
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