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(tachina flies), a family of brachycerous dipterous insects. There are about 5,000 species of tachina flies, which are found in virtually all parts of the world. Adult flies are encountered on flowers and leaves, where they feed on nectar and manna. The flies are active in sunny weather.
The larvae of most tachina flies are endoparasites of other insects. The flies parasitize their hosts in a variety of ways. Those that parasitize leaf-eating caterpillars deposit their eggs on the leaves eaten by their hosts. Those that infest soil-dwelling invertebrates deposit their eggs on the ground, and the larvae, upon hatching, migrate through the soil in search of a host. In many cases, eggs are deposited only in the presence of the host; certain tachina flies deposit eggs directly into the body of an insect after puncturing its integument. Some species are viviparous.
At first, tachina larvae do not harm vital organs; however, when fully developed, they secrete large quantities of juices that completely digest the host’s tissues. The flies generally pupate in soil. Many tachinid species are specialized predators that only infest certain insect species; for example, representatives of the subfamily Fasiinae prey on hemipterans, those of the subfamily Dixiinae on beetles, and those of the subfamily Tachininae on butterflies and moths. The only ectoparasite among the tachina flies is Myiobia bezziana, which is found in India. Its larvae attack caterpillars and suck out their tissues through the integument.
Since tachina flies are natural enemies of many insect pests and help control their numbers, they are regarded as beneficial insects. Certain species have been successfully introduced in various countries to control the Colorado potato beetle, the Japanese beetle, the gypsy moth, and other pests.
REFERENCESOpredelitel’ nasekomykh Evropeiskoi chasti SSSR, vol. 5, no. 2. Leningrad, 1970.
Herting, B. Biologie des Westpaläarktischen Raupenfliegen (Dipt., Tachinidae). Hamburg-Berlin, 1960.
B. R. STRIGANOVA