Spud
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Tiny weenie black flies in hundreds

I have hundreds of these tiny black flies recently appear in my veggie garden. Not much damage to be seen yet. It has been very very hot and dry lately although the garden is well moist/ watered. See close up photo on a Sunflower leaf. I don't know what it is or what to do about it. I appreciate your help. Thank you.
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applestar
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Re: Tiny weenie black flies in hundreds

Definitely not fly -- could be a wasp (maybe beneficial) or maybe winged ant? -- hot and dry season could have triggered ant swarm -- Queens and drones splitting off from the colony.

When that happens in my garden, it seems like there is an exodus from all the ant nests, and attracts a criss cross feeding frenzy of dragonflies and swallows in flight above my house and garden. Did anything like that happen?
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applestar
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Re: Tiny weenie black flies in hundreds

I posted this in September last fall:

Subject: Backyard bird and butterfly (and dragonfly too) watching
applestar wrote:I think I posted about one of these before -- there was some kind of insect hatching event in my garden again. A little after 11 AM, I noticed there were a huge number of swallows zooming and swooping over my house and garden. They were flying overhead near roof level and just a little above all over the back yard and front yard.

I pointed my iPad at the sky and took videos and as I was doing that, realized there were not only swallows but dragonflies too.

Since I was looking up and recording, it became more and more obvious that they were *really* only flying over my garden -- making sharp turns to come back and swoop through over and over again. I walked to the front yard/sidewalk to one end of the property, turned and recorded over my house, to the front, then turned around slowly recording the neighborhood, then to the other end, there was no doubt.

As I walked, I looked everywhere, on the ground, in the air, and including the house siding just in case it was something nasty, but I couldn't see what they were so excitedly feeding on.

I see this kind of localized swarming over my garden at least a couple of times during the summer. I remember seeing all the little black ant queens and drones taking off at once from their ant colony hills one time (they seem to do this together -- out of all of the anthills in the garden), and another time, something else that I couldn't identify. So maybe one of those? But I guess I missed the initial takeoff at ground level today, and they were all already a-wing by the time the birds and dragonflies were feeding.

It's really kind off odd to see the aerial activity from all different directions around the property and at the surrounding neighborhood, and realize it's just going on here. (But it also makes me happy to feel like this is an affirmation that my efforts to create a biodiverse wildlife habitat in my relatively tiny postage stamp of a garden are effective.) And I'm glad I took the videos because in a matter of 1/2 hr or so that I was looking up at the sky, both the birds and dragonflies started to disperse, and in an hour they were gone.

The videos I took today were pretty low quality, but, someday, if I ever learn to edit and splice these videos together into something presentable and learn how to post it in a way that can be shared, I will.

Here are a couple of stills extracted from the videos (tap/click to enlarge):

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Spud
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Re: Tiny weenie black flies in hundreds

Thanks for that but they do have wings and fly. The are miniture and swarm on the plant. Here is another photo not so close.
Thank you kindly
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JONA
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Re: Tiny weenie black flies in hundreds

It is possible that they are fruit flies.
Very common were there is any sort of rotting vegetation.
More of a nuisance than anything else.
John

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Re: Tiny weenie black flies in hundreds

I read in your initial post that it's been hot and dry lately. Nevertheless, has it all rained recently, maybe overnight or early morning? I looked at a weather table for your general area and it seems like it may have rained a little on Wednesday. Is your property by any chance located on a hill or a location that is relatively higher than the surrounding property?

The body shape and wing shape excludes that insect from being a wasp, beetle, termite or a gnat. Those insects have the wrong body shape or coloration.

The body shape and color strongly resemble the winged stage of an ant. The legs, the three segments with the thin portion between the thorax and the rear part are the hallmarks of the flying stage of a small black ant native to Australia.

Many insects go through a metamorphosis, much like the butterfly or moth does. Ants tend to be wingless and non-reproductive. Then in the summer, much like many other species of insects, they go through a biological change for the purpose of mating. In the case of the ants, they cultivate winged versions that are capable of reproducing.

After a summer rain they'll fly out and swarm for the purpose of reproducing. This is a common event for different insect species from Spring to the end of Summer. Ever see swarming balls of insects overhead? They are reproducing. That's how they accomplish reproduction. Anglers call these hatches. They are fairly predictable, too!

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