Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio

daffodil fly

May 12, 2009

Categories: Bulb Fly, Diseases and Pests, Growing Daffodils, Soil

Download PDF

I’ve heard the narcissus fly buzzing around while I’ve been weeding.  So today I went out looking for any one of the treatments listed in the ADS Handbook.  I found Ortho Max Tree and Shrub spray which contains imidacloprid.  It’s supposed to kill the flying insects and then go through the soil into the plants and act as a systemic.  It was sold in a 32 oz. container that you attach to the garden hose and then spray.  It was easy enough to use, but it’s not cheap.  It was about $20 for the 32 oz container, and I figure I’ll need at least 4 more.  I also have some granular Bayer grub killer which contains Merit, and I’ll probably spread that where I don’t use the spray.  But I want to kill the flying ones if at all possible.  I’ll let you know tomorrow if I hear anymore buzzing.  🙂
Mary Lou

8 responses to “daffodil fly”

  1. Mary Lou Gripshover says:

    I should have said I found it at Home Depot.
    Mary Lou

  2. Melissa Reading says:

    Imidacloprid is considered one of the most likely causes of honeybee colony collapse disorder.  One might want to consider this fact before using it.  See, for example:
    "…Imidacloprid is receiving increased attention as a possible factor in Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious condition that causes sudden death of honey bee populations. Mass die-offs of bees threaten pollination of food crops in the USA and Europe…"

    At 12:14 PM 5/12/2009, Mary Lou Gripshover wrote:

    I should have said I found it at Home Depot.
    Mary Lou


  3. Mary Lou Gripshover, Ohio Mary Lou Gripshover says:

    Thanks for pointing this out, Melissa.
    Mary Lou

  4. Kathy Welsh says:

    Speaking of bulb fly, has anyone ever been stung by a bulb fly?  Can they sting?  Two of them managed to land close to me yesterday when I was weeding and I killed them with my hand.  Yes, I was flailing around like an idiot trying to get them. I had gloves on and didn’t get stung, but it occurred to me that this may have been a risky thing to do.

  5. Clay Higgins says:


    I understand that they are like a housefly and don’t sting.  I hope so at least. I have killed them with a pinch from my open hand  – no gloves.


    Clay Higgins

  6. Melissa Reading says:

    I’ve been watching large bulb flies recently, and have caught 5 of them in jars.  They seem to feed on the nectar of shallow blooms such as chive blossoms and scabiosa.  These plants make good "traps", as the flies hang out there, and are very easily caught.  If the flies are eating pollen and nectar, then they are unlikely to have appropriate mouthparts to allow them to bite animals.

    Flies don’t have a stinger.  They may bite, but not sting.  See, for example:  "The females of some insects have a prominent structure for depositing eggs, called an ovipositor. In bees, wasps, and ants, the ovipositor is modified into a stinger."  "A fly has mouthparts designed to suck up liquids and for piercing, if the fly is one that bites other animals. "  

    Order: Diptera (DIP-ter-a) ( Info)
    Family: Syrphidae
    Genus: Merodon
    Species: equestris

    In general, Hoverflies (members of the Syrphidae) are beneficial insects.  They often prey on other insects.  The first Syrphidae I became familiar with were sadly predators on the larvae of Monarch butterflies.  Hoverflies are important pollinators themselves. 

    Here’s an abstract that confirms that the adults eat nectar & pollen:
    Attempts are being made to revive the traditional cultivation of bulbs in south-eastern France and particularly of scented jonquil (Narcissus jonquilla) in the Tanneron region, where extensive fires in 1970 destroyed large areas of forest and mimosa plantations. These attempts have been largely frustrated, however, by outbreaks of insect pests, especially Merodon equestris (F.), which has previously been better known in Britain and the United States than in France. Detailed information is given on the systematic position, geographic distribution, national and regional economic importance, external morphology of all stages (including the similarity of the adults to bees and of the larvae to those of Eumerus spp.), food-plants, damage to bulbs, laboratory rearing, life-history and habits, and the factors affecting the population dynamics and incidence, of this Syrphid; these last comprise the effect of nearby plantings, forests or wild plants, plant density, soil type and cultivation, conditions of bulb storage, climate, natural enemies, gonad atrophy (a malformation common in the males of M. equestris), cannibalism, intraspecific competition and diseases. The adults visit flowers of various types to feed on nectar and pollen, but larval development takes place in Iridaceae, Amaryllidaceae and Liliaceae. The adults are able to pair more than once, and the number of eggs/female averaged 100 in the laboratory. The eggs are laid under clods and in cracks in the soil and hatch in 8-15 days. The larva descends to the bottom of the nearest bulb, enters from beneath and feeds on the base; later it moves to the upper part, destroying the centre of growth, or migrates to further bulbs if the first one is small. Attack on bulbs usually lasts from the end of April to October, after which the larvae overwinter in the bulbs and pupate in the soil in the following spring. The adults emerge from the end of March onwards, and the flight period lasts about two months in south-eastern France. The severity of the damage to the bulb varies according to its size; smaller bulbs fail to germinate, but larger ones of which the centre is destroyed may form lateral bulbs that produce leaves smaller or more twisted than usual. Bulbs infested before planting on their definitive site can be identified by scraping the base to reveal the larval entrance hole.   This scholarly paper shows just how far entymologists can go into their craft:  it describes the details of anatomy of many Bulb Flies of the Iberian penninsula, which the authors claim to be a hotspot of merodon diversity owing to the large populations of narcissus and other bulb plants!  If you want to be able to sex your bulb flies, this is the article to read!  (And we thought daffodillians were nuts with their art!)

    It sure is easy to get lost in Google….

    At 03:33 AM 5/13/2009,  title= wrote:

    Speaking of bulb fly, has anyone ever been stung by a bulb fly? Can they sting? Two of them managed to land close to me yesterday when I was weeding and I killed them with my hand. Yes, I was flailing around like an idiot trying to get them. I had gloves on and didn’t get stung, but it occurred to me that this may have been a risky thing to do.
    Dell Mini Netbooks: Great deals starting at $299 after instant savings!


  7. Barbara and Len Weber, Oregon Barbara and Len Weber says:

    I use a butterfly net and have caught just lots. Then I poke them back in the ground. “I, too will go to dust.”

  8. Donna Dietsch says:
    I have been watching for the fly, but have not yet seen one.  My last daffs are in bloom now and it is rather cool and rainy.  I am looking at Sun Disc and Baby Moon and late jonquilla.  So the season is over and this is the time that I see the fly.  Now I am nervous.  Did I get rid of them last year when I used row cover for my beds?  I put an Ortho fly trap under each cover and found a couple of flies.  No bare spots this year where the fly ate every bulb, and no flies flying around.  I think I am still in jeopardy, but how long do I still look for them?  It’s going to be cool and rainy all week.
    (in Ohio)