|Archytas apicifer adult on Euonymus kiautschovicus|
Archytas apicifer is a large tachinid fly that belongs to the family Tachinidae. Their name was authored by the German entomologist Johann Friedrich Jaennicke (1867). Presumably named after the Greek classical philosopher and mathematician Archytas. Adult flies are strong fliers and heavily bristled, they have a creamy yellowish thorax, a white head with brown eyes, and a black abdomen. These flies are helpful parasites that attack the Forest tent caterpillar. These common Tachinid flies can be found at flowers and are very common in the summer. Adults are medium to large flies 10–14 mm long. Like all members of the family they hold their wings slightly open to reveal their round abdomen. These flies can be found at flowers throughout much of North and South America. Archytas apicifer rarely enter houses. They are sometimes mistaken for bumblebees because of their large size and coloring. Eggs are small and white and can be found attached to the undersides of their hosts. Later when the eggs hatch the larvae burrow into their host quickly and begin feeding.
The family Tachinidae is considered the second-largest amongst all the diverse families of Diptera (two-winged true flies). There are about 10,000 species worldwide. All of these flies are parasites on other organisms. They come in an assortment of flies, most are large colorful flies, but most are known for their bristly faces. Most bristles are found on the head or on the 4th to 6th abdominal segments. All are parasites and all insects from all families and groups are parasistized by them. These flies can be very helpful to farmers because many are parasitoids on harmful caterpillars. Parasitic flies rarely feed on carrion or dung, all adults feed on nectar or sweet liquids and larvae feed on host insects.
Archytas apicifer adults feed on flower nectar, and are also known to be pollinators of some flowers with strong odor. They commonly pollinate Euonymus kiautschovicus a flowering bush cultivated in North America and native to Japan. Larvae feed on Forest tent caterpillars and fall webworms, other common hosts include the Tomato fruitworm, corn earworm, and cutworms. After mating female flies search for potential hosts by sight. They lay their eggs on the hosts underside and later as the eggs hatch the larvae burrow into the host where they quickly begin feeding on tissue, later killing the host.
Like all flies Archytas apicifer has many predators including spiders, birds, centipedes, and robber flies. Humans are the largest threat because of insecticides and pesticides. However concern for Archytas apicifer is low. Spiders often capture Archytas apicifer.
- "Archytas apicifer (Walker, 1849)". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- James E. O'Hara (2009). "Taxonomic and Host Catalogue of the Tachinidae of America North of Mexico". North American Dipterists Society. Retrieved 1 October 2012.