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Feather-legged Fly - T. pennipes (Trichopoda pennipes)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Feather-legged Fly - T. pennipes



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This small fly has a host of bold features like an orange abdomen, white-edged wings, and a colorful collar.



Updated: 06/21/2022; Authored By ; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
This small yet colorful fly is a predator in its larval stage. The maggots, or larvae, are parasites to a variety of plant bugs commonly found in gardens. They are helpful in controlling the population of plant-harming insects, so finding an adult buzzing around the vegetables is a good sign for gardeners and farmers.

Feather-legged Flies have clumps of long hairs on their legs, making them seem bulky and thick. This species is sexually dimorphic; though similar, males and females have some color differences. Females have a black spot on the abdomen, while males do not. Black wings seem to have a white border on the inner edge, but this area of the wing is transparent. Males also have orange patches on the leading edge of the black wings. Both have a black neck with bright, thin orange lines, giving it a boxy appearance.

Females lay eggs on an insect host, but only one will survive after boring into the host's body. The larva feeds on the internal fluids, growing and developing until it exits the host's body, killing it. It pupates in the ground and emerges as a flying adult just a few weeks later. Look for the bright orange and black adults around plants, especially food plants that attract host insects like stink bugs and squash bugs.




Known Diet of the Feather-Legged-Fly-Trichopoda-pennipes



stink bugs; squash bugs; shield-backed bugs; jewel bugs; bordered plant bugs; leaf-footed bugs


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Tachinidae
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          Genus: Trichopoda
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            Species: pennipes
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Trichopoda pennipes
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 7mm to 13mm (0.27" to 0.51")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange; black; white
Descriptors: neck; collar; black spot on orange abdomen; white edge on black wings; thick thighs; fuzzy legs; flying
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 7mm (0.3in) and 13mm (0.5in)
Lo: 7mm
Md: 10mm
Hi: 13mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Feather-legged Fly - T. pennipes may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Feather-legged Fly - T. pennipes. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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