Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Brown on yellow, what a fellow

with 34 comments

Fly on Navajo Tea Flower Head 0470

On a Navajo tea flower head (Thelesperma simplicifolium) I found this fly, which didn’t mind the close presence of my macro lens and stayed put while I took pictures. From the people at BugGuide.net I learned that this is a kind of syrphid fly, Copestylum avidum, and that the way the eyes touch at the top of the head signals that this one is a male. For a closeup of the insect’s compound eye, click the excerpt below.

Fly on Navajo Tea Flower Head 0470A

The date was April 8 and the place was the Doeskin Ranch section of the National Wildlife Refuge in Burnet County.

Update: BugGuide has also identified the nymph you saw three days ago as being a katydid in the subfamily Phaneropterinae:

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 24, 2016 at 5:19 AM

34 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. The lace-like look of the wings matches the lace-like webbing underneath the flower. Very charming.


    April 24, 2016 at 6:14 AM

    • I’d noticed the strands of webbing beneath the flower head but hadn’t made a connection to the similar-looking areas on the wings. Now I see a harmony between them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2016 at 6:24 AM

      • I expect the spider who made the web was hoping the fly would venture into her parlour.


        April 24, 2016 at 6:28 AM

        • You make a good point. I never looked underneath to see if the spider was still there. I often find silk left behind after a spider has departed, but I also often find spiders lurking in various places on flowers. Spiders do seem to know that other insects are likely to come there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 24, 2016 at 9:31 AM

  2. Good morning, Steve,
    This fellow could have come out of a sci-fi movie, especially when you look at the close-up. Excellent shot – as always. 🙂
    Have a great Sunday,


    April 24, 2016 at 8:26 AM

    • Insects do seem alien to us, don’t they? That alien-ness has indeed fed into some sci-fi movies. Two that I remember from childhood are “The Fly” and “Them!

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2016 at 9:36 AM

      • I wonder why that is so. I have no idea.


        April 24, 2016 at 9:37 AM

        • Maybe it has to do with imagining an insect enlarged to human size (or bigger). On the other hand, even at its normal tiny size an insect like a fire ant can instill fear.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 24, 2016 at 9:41 AM

          • Maybe just because they look so different?


            April 24, 2016 at 9:57 AM

            • They sure are different. Some people are repulsed by that difference, others attracted.

              Steve Schwartzman

              April 24, 2016 at 10:00 AM

              • I’m just fascinated.


                April 24, 2016 at 10:12 AM

                • Maybe you can take an entomology class (if you haven’t already) or read some books on the subject.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  April 24, 2016 at 10:31 AM

                • Maybe a book, or books. Good suggestion.


                  April 25, 2016 at 8:59 AM

  3. He is one hairy little guy.

    Jim Ruebush

    April 24, 2016 at 8:26 AM

    • He sure is. He even has hair on his eyes. That seems counter-productive, but then what do I know about being a fly?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2016 at 9:38 AM

  4. A lovely image, Steve.

    Mike Griffiths

    April 24, 2016 at 1:39 PM

  5. Gosh this looks much like a drone fly. They look a wee bit like a bee. And they adore yellow flowers 😃


    April 24, 2016 at 8:06 PM

    • Yes, there are lots of flies that resemble bees to varying degrees and presumably get protection from the resemblance: what wouldn’t mess with a bee wouldn’t mess with them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 24, 2016 at 9:43 PM

  6. AKA Hoverflies, these are my favorites of the Diptera. I love the window pane effect of their wings that you’ve captured which at the right angle can also be prisms.

    Steve Gingold

    April 25, 2016 at 6:50 AM

    • Your mention of “window pane” reminded me of the word cellophane, which I seem not to hear as much anymore as when I was a kid. Hoverflies, fortunately, are still as much with us as ever. I know what you mean about the prismatic effect when the light is at the right angle. Speaking of which: the angles in a triangle add up to two right angles. And why have I never seen a bumper sticker saying “The right angle is the right angle for me”?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2016 at 8:09 AM

      • Go for it. There might be some extra retirement cash in it for you.

        Steve Gingold

        April 25, 2016 at 8:15 AM

      • I did see a bumper sticker a couple of weeks ago that said, “Caution! Photographer On Board! I Brake for Wildflowers!” I don’t do bumperstickers, but that one has some appeal. The nice Brazoria County constable who stopped to see if the woman on the ground at Nash Prairie (yes, me) might have had a heart attack said he’s campaigning for a “Photographer Down” flag, like the “Diver Down” flags used by scuba divers. It’s actually a reasonable idea. As he said, “If a bluebonnet flag was flying, we’d at least know we had a photographer out there.”


        April 25, 2016 at 9:01 AM

        • I haven’t had one of those experiences recently, but I imagine it’s just a matter of time till the next one. I’ve thought of carrying a little sign saying “Nature Photographer” or some such thing that I could put up when I’m lying down in a busy place where people don’t normally lie down, but I have enough stuff to carry already and don’t want to be burdened with more.

          Funny you should mention “Photographer on Board!” Just the other day I suddenly thought about the “Baby on Board” decals and bumper stickers that were once a fad. I occasionally see yard signs in my neighborhood saying “Drive like your kids live here.” They make me want to put up a counter-sign saying “Drive like you expect to get home before next week.” You can tell that I have a thing against slow drivers who refuse to pull over to let everyone else pass.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 25, 2016 at 9:14 AM

  7. Those eyes are quite something. And how interesting, that they’re a way to distinguish male from female. I wonder if the different placement makes a difference in how the boy and girl flies see the world? What I’m sure of is that these plants are full of life. From the pretty butterflies to the interesting but just slightly gross aphids, it’s a busy world.


    April 25, 2016 at 9:05 AM

    • What? You mean there are gender wars among flies, too? Is there no refuge even on a wildlife refuge?

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2016 at 9:27 AM

  8. I’m all abuzz with admiration.


    April 25, 2016 at 2:23 PM

  9. How nice of him to sit still for you. Flies don’t normally do that. Of course, I clicked the close-up, because flies have the cutest faces.


    April 25, 2016 at 3:21 PM

    • I was as surprised as anyone that this fly was so docile. Eventually I must have made a movement that startled it away, but it soon came back. Would that all insects were as cooperative with nature photographers.

      Most people would probably be surprised that someone thinks flies have cute faces, but I know your taste in such matters and am not surprised to hear you say that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 25, 2016 at 3:32 PM

  10. What a fellow, yes. And what a great and impressive macro photo!


    April 27, 2016 at 7:09 AM

  11. […] simplicifolium, which was in the process of opening out to a larger size. A few days ago you saw a developed flower head of this species serving as a platform for a big-eyed […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: