A June Bridal Couple That Monarch Moms and Dads Will Hate

Jun 7, 2017

Ready for those June weddings?

Coming to an altar near you...a bride and a groom. "When you marry in June, you're a bride all your life."--Anonymous.

"Look happy," say the wedding photographers as they focus on the bridal couple, and then single out the bride who will be a bride all of her life.

But if you engage in insect wedding photography, you'll find that June is a good month for insects, too. 

Take those tachinid flies. Have you ever focused on them?

Monarch moms and dads--those who rear and release monarch butterflies--hate tachinid "weddings." They hate the bride, the groom, their families, and all future offspring.  It's a hate-hate relationship.

That's because some members of the Tachinidae family are parasitoids, that is, the flies lay their eggs inside a living host (larva). The fly larvae eat the tissue from the inside out, killing the host.

That's good if you're trying to control cabbage white flies, cabbage loopers, alfalfa loopers, fall armyworms, variegated cutworms, codling moths, oriental fruit moths, peach twig borers, obliquebanded leafrollers, omnivorous leafrollers, oriental fruit moths, peach twig borers, pink bollworms and other pests. It's a "natural enemy" thing. See UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.

That's bad if you're trying to rear monarch butterflies. You're appalled when your caterpillar shrivels and dies, and several fly maggots emerge. Or when your brown-stained chrysalis turns to goo, and out pop several maggots.

But back to insect wedding photography. We've never managed to catch tachinid flies feeling a little...uh...well...amorous. This amorous feeling is not mutual; to be honest, I still haven't forgiven them for what they did to our small-scale, rear-and-release monarch project last year. 

Still, as a insect photographer, I consider myself a guest in their habitat. 

So, yes, I walked away. I did. No insects were harmed in the making of these photographs.