I found this beautiful fly sipping nectar from a perennial mum in my garden yesterday. A member of the tachinid fly family, Trichopoda pennipes (aka the feather-legged fly) is a very beneficial insect to have around. Tachinid flies are parasitoids that use many different insects as hosts for their developing young, and the feather-legged fly is no different. Female feather-legged flies lay tiny, pale-colored, oval eggs on true bugs, including squash bugs, stink bugs (!!!), and leaf-footed bugs. The eggs hatch, and the resulting larvae burrow down into the host insect and consume it as they develop through several instars, eventually bringing death to the host. Pupation takes place in the soil. Trichopoda pennipes produces two to three generations per year, and each female fly can lay several hundred eggs. Clearly, they are a valuable insect to have in the vegetable garden. Adult flies feed on pollen and nectar, particularly from members of the aster family. In my own garden, I frequently find them on my boltonia, black eyed Susans, coreopsis, yarrow, and asters. The feather-legged fly in this photo is a male, as evidenced by its orange abdomen (females have brown abdomens).