Syrphid fly is a generic name given to an entire group of flies.
There are some differences in appearance and color, but the
yellow and black color is the major one in our area. The other
names for syrphid flies are hover flies or flower flies. They
tend to hover around your arms and face when you have been
perspiring, and they land to lap up the sweat. They are also
commonly found on flowers -- hence the flower fly name -- and
they do a good job of pollinating.
Syrphid flies are actually
beneficial insects. They help pollinate; larvae feed on dead
organic matter; and the larvae are predators of aphids. They
cannot sting, but their mouthparts can usually be felt when
lapping up sweat from sensitive areas. You may feel a slight
Yellow jackets are the other common yellow and black insect
this time of year. Yellow jackets can be very aggressive in
biting and stinging. They are usually about twice the size of
the syrphid flies, and the easiest way to tell them apart
(without getting stung) is to count the wings. Flies have one
pair, and bees and wasps have two pairs.
Yellow jackets are most frequently encountered when they
scavenge for food. Their habit of feeding on nectar and sugar
can create a nuisance. Yellow jackets are attracted to open cups
and cans of soda and other sweet liquids. They are also
attracted to open cans of garbage, bright flowery clothing and
floral-scented perfumes. All outside garbage cans must be kept
clean and well-covered to reduce yellow jacket problems. Contact
with the wasps can be decreased by reducing these attractions at
picnics and other outings. In situations closer to home, the
elimination of overripe fruit from gardens and orchards will
dramatically decrease the number of scavenging yellow jackets.
Having gatherings indoors and using screens on windows will also
help avoid yellow jacket problems.
[to top of second column]
As for the syrphid flies, no controls are going to be very
effective. On the other hand, there really isn't much need for
control. They're a nuisance pest. They are very agile and will
probably be able to avoid that aerosol spray. Inside the home, a
swatter and a vacuum cleaner are probably the best tools.
Mushrooms and toadstools
A common complaint this year has been the large amount of
mushrooms and toadstools coming up in lawns. To begin with, these
are in the decay fungi group. They are decaying old tree roots or
lumber under the surface. This means there is no ready control for
them, other than removing the material to be decayed.
The best, and only, thing to do is physically remove them by
raking, mowing or picking. The spores grow when weather and
temperature conditions are just right, so you usually won't have
them continuously, rather on an occasional basis.
University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]