Andrew Westfall column sig

Have you found yourself outside recently being harassed by relentless little black and yellow bugs?

Many people refer to these insects as “sweat bees,” but a closer inspection often reveals them to be hover flies, aka syrphid flies.

Hover flies are quite prevalent this year, especially around corn and soybean fields. While they can be quite an annoying pest, do not fear; they are just a fly that looks like a bee and cannot sting you.

Hover flies like to swarm around people, presumably looking for moisture and salts on our skin. They mimic and look like bees, except when you look closer they have a metallic colored head and thorax. They also have a single pair of wings with bright yellow and black bands, where as bees and wasps have two pairs of wings.

They also have the ability to suspend in midair, which bees and wasps cannot. Hover flies even wiggle their abdomens up and down in the air before they land on something, making it looks like they are preparing to sting, but they possess no stinger to do so.

Despite their annoyance, hover flies can actually be beneficial because they are a good pollinator of plants. Also, at their larval stage, they eat aphids that can be pests on many types of plants.

In corn fields, they like to consume excess and old pollen that does not land on silks and pollinate corn, thus they do not affect yield.

For more information on hover flies, refer to the Purdue publication: http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/HN-94.pdf, which also features picture of hover flies, sweat bees, and yellow jackets for comparison.

Outlook Breakfast

Please save the date of Sept. 20 for the annual White County Ag Outlook Breakfast. The program will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the 4-H Community Building at the fairgrounds in Reynolds, beginning with a catered breakfast, followed by the “Ag Outlook” presentation with Purdue Ag Economist Michael Langemeier.

The program is free to the public and designed to help farmers, landowners and agribusiness managers make better business decisions in the coming year.

The Ag Outlook Breakfast is sponsored by Alliance Bank, Bank of Wolcott, Farm Credit Mid-America, Fountain Trust Company, and Lafayette Bank & Trust.

If you would like to attend, RSVP by contacting the Purdue Extension Office of White County at 219-984-5115 or e-mail me at awestfal@purdue.edu.