Feather-legged fly, Trichopoda pennipes (Diptera: Tachinidae)
A few weeks ago I was secretly checking out my neighbors invasive looking vine (which I now believe to be Thunbergia grandiflora or blue trumpet vine) when I noticed this unusual looking fly with with an orange abdomen and what appeared to be coreid style leaf feet. I ran in and grabbed my camera and was able to get a few pics, but could never get it to look directly at me – also was worried that my neighbor might get a little suspicious.
I did a little internet sleuthing and found a Hawaiian Ent Soc reference stating: “Trichopoda pennipes pilipes Fabricius was introduced into Hawaii from Trinidad in 1962 to combat the southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula (Fabricius) (Davis and Krauss, 1963; Davis, 1964).”
Unfortunately it parasitizes some other bugs as well…”In Hawaii, T. p. pilipes has been reared from the scutellerid Coleotichus blackburni White and the pentatomids Thyanta accera (McAtee) and Plautia stali Scott, in addition to N. viridula.”
The Bishop Museum’s Hawaii Biological Survey site says this in regard to the Koa Bug and T. pennipes:
“Unfortunately, a fly that was introduced to help get rid of the pest stink bugs (which have been causing problems with some of Hawaii’s agricultural crops) does not know the difference between the bad bug and the “good” koa bug. By going after the “wrong guy” it has had a impact on the reduction of its populations on most islands.
The koa bug is still around, but in very low numbers on most Hawaiian islands. There are only a few areas left on the Big Island where it is common. Hopefully our HBS field staff will find evidence on Maui that it is making a comeback.”
Mohammad S. and J. W. Beardsley, Jr. 1975. Egg Viability and Larval Penetration in Trichopoda pennipes pilipes Fabricius (Diptera: Tachinidae). Proc. Hawaiian Entomol. Soc. 22: 133-136.