Plant-Insect Interaction: Flower fly on a spotted knapweed

Flower fly (Diptera: Syrphidae: Taxomerus geminatus) on a spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa or C. stoebe ssp. micranthos, Asteraceae). Photographed 10/25/2012 near Manitou Beach, Michigan.

Spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa or C. stoebe ssp. micranthos, Asteraceae) is an invasive plant that has spread throughout most of North America since being introduced here from Europe in the late 1800s. It outcompetes and displaces native plant species through a variety of traits including phytotoxicity (it literally poisons other plants). By disrupting food webs and reducing biodiversity it has become a serious problem in ecologically sensitive areas.

Flower fly (Diptera: Syrphidae: Taxomerus geminatus) on a spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa or C. stoebe ssp. micranthos, Asteraceae). Photographed 10/25/2012 near Manitou Beach, Michigan.

In spite of its infamy, spotted knapweed flowers produce nectar like any other. A couple of weeks ago I found this flower fly (DipteraSyrphidaeTaxomerus geminatus) feeding on a knapweed along a driveway here in southeast Michigan.

Flower fly (Diptera: Syrphidae: Taxomerus geminatus) on a spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa or C. stoebe ssp. micranthos, Asteraceae). Photographed 10/25/2012 near Manitou Beach, Michigan.

This unusually warm day brought out a number of insects to feed on the limited late-season plants. With our low temperatures now dipping below freezing and highs only in the 40s F, insects will be few and far between until spring.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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