Tachinid Fly Beneficial Insect

Tachnid fly
Tachinid fly
Tachinid fly

The tachinid fly is a beneficial insect.

Tachnid fly larvae are parasitic; they feed on the living tissue and vital organs of many caterpillars including cabbage worms, cutworms, corn ear worms, sawfly larvae, and tobacco budworms. They also feed on Colorado potato beetles, cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, and Mexican bean beetles.

Adult tachinid flies are pollinators. They feed on nectar from small flowers including cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, and Queen Anne’s lace as well Aster, chamomile, feverfew, ox-eye daisy, and Shasta daisy. As they feed, tachinid flies transfer pollen and aide in the pollination of many herbs and flowers.

Planting any herbs or flowers frequented by tachinid flies in the garden will directly lead to the control of many pest insects.

Some female tachinid flies lay eggs on the bodies of host insects where they hatch. Others inject live larvae directly into the host. Still others lay eggs on plants and when the eggs hatch, the larvae attack target insects as they pass by.

Once larvae are in contact with the target insect, they first eat non-essential tissue then tunnel into the host’s internal organs and feed until the prey is dead and the larvae are fat. The larvae then pupate into adults often still inside the prey’s body.

Adult tachinid flies look much like houseflies but covered with bristly hairs. Eggs are oval and white. Larvae are small cream-colored maggots.

More than 1,300 species of tachinid flies have been found in North America and more than 8,200 species worldwide.

Scientific name: Family Tachinidae


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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