mystery fly and crumby internet connections

What do flies and internet connections have in common? You may be thinking, “Absolutely nothing at all.” Well, read on.

I’m having a busy week here at the farm, so haven’t been spending as much time as I should doing my daily insects walks. However, I did manage to capture a couple of shots of this interesting fly found on the underside of a milkweed leaf. I really like the distinctive, furry belts around the abdomen (click on images for larger view). They’re quite odd-looking when viewed up close as the sections between the belts look bare — almost as though the fly has been shaved with a set of miniature dog grooming clippers. Offhand, I can’t offer much in the way of an ID. The wings look too short to be a species of Progressive Bee Fly (Exoprosopa). Might be some kind of Tachinid fly. If anyone has ideas for a possible ID, please feel free to post them.

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do much searching for IDs right at the moment — and besides, my net connection has been absolutely dreadful lately — making any searches about as pleasant as having a tooth pulled. I’m lucky if and when the connection speed gets above 24000 bps. That’s not of much use when you’re trying to peruse through hundreds of photos of insects on some of the websites that I use for working on IDs. I’m not sure where the problem lies, but I expect that it has to do with the phone lines in our area. When we’ve had rain, the phone crackles so badly that you can’t hear the person you’re talking to, and our net connection drops constantly. In the past we’ve discussed the problem with the repair crews working in this area and a couple have said the lines “need some work.” I get the impression that they are becoming old and decrepit.

In any case, regarding net access, we can’t get either DSL or a cable hookup here at our farm — which is actually rather amazing considering that we live less than 20 km. from a city that is known for its high-tech industry. Somehow, our little pocket of countryside has been bypassed during all of the surrounding development. Apparently, we get to enjoy the increased road traffic and associated noise, but not the benefits of good internet service. However, there are some recently installed towers nearby, and we should be able to get high-speed internet if we’ve got a clear line of sight and want to get some kind of receiver antenna put up. It’s kind of expensive, but we may look into that avenue later this autumn.

EDIT – 19/08/2007 – This fly was identified by Jeff Cumming of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as a cluster fly (Pollenia sp., Calliphoridae), infected with a type of entomophagus fungus.

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15 Responses to “mystery fly and crumby internet connections”

  1. Lynne Says:

    I NEVER thought I’d say this about a fly- that is sooo neat!

  2. Wayne Says:

    Oh my. I’ve never seen anything like that on *my* flies. Those belts are amazing, and the photographs are truly excellent.

    DSL relies on phone lines so if they’re bad to begin with it’s unlikely DSL is going to be reliable even if you can get it established. We had a gung-ho retiree here badger our local phone provider until they just did it, and I’m eternally grateful, since we lived over 10 years with dialup at 19KB up to that point.

    Our climate is milder, of course, and that probably has a lot to do with the phone line possibilities. For you, that leaves, without relying on your phone lines, with satellite possibilities. We looked into it, but weren’t happy about the expense and quality of download/upload, but then that was a year or two ago.

    Bev, you seem to eschew a lot of expensive things out of reasonable rejection. TV and other ancillary expenses such as cell phones that I don’t know how other people pay for come to my mind first.

    When internet connection is important to you (depending on how important, of course, and what your finances are), that’s my major priority, don’t know about you.

  3. burning silo Says:

    Lynne – yep, it is pretty neat, isn’t it! (-:

    Wayne – Thanks! I can’t say if I’ve seen a fly like this before. It seems vaguely familiar, but I doubt I’ve ever shot a photo of one before. When I get more time this autumn or winter, I’ll work on IDs for a bunch of photos that I haven’t posted yet.
    Regarding the DSL, I’ve been told that the lines in our area can’t handle DSL, so I guess we’re waiting for the phone company to replace the infrastructure. I suppose that could happen in a year or two, but who knows… could take 5 years. I think the whatever-they-call it — broadband from towers(?) is probably the best bet. I also looked into getting a satellite dish for the net awhile back, but it was very expensive (about $80 per month and about $250 for the initial installation), and it could download quickly, but uploading was still over a telephone wire as I recall. That wouldn’t have been much of a help to me as my heaviest data use is uploading rather than downloading. You’re quite right though… I do without a lot of things, so spending something on a good net connection seems practical. The price isn’t really all that much above what I am currently paying for this slow connection. It would be well worth the cost just for the frustration factor that I deal with on an almost daily basis.

  4. Marnie Says:

    What an incredible fly! It looks like a craft project involving pipecleaners. I’ve just spent time looking at all the flies at, and I didn’t see anything like it there. Googling various phrases didn’t turn up the right thing either. Good luck with the ID! I love your site — I still haven’t stopped laughing at the pic of the praying mantis facing the giant dog-mountain. My sympathies on the slow, frustrating internet connection.

  5. burning silo Says:

    Marnie – Thanks! Glad you are enjoying the site and the mantis photos. Funny thing about that fly – but I thought about pipe cleaners too! I’ll have to work on the ID a bit more when I have some spare time.

  6. Pamela Says:

    Great fly! High-speed? We have no DSL or cable in Thomasburg, but perodically I look into the other options. A few months ago I discovered that satellite high-speed, both ways, apparently pretty good, not too expensive, is now available to us here–but the equipment and installation cost is $800.00. And for that you become the owner of equipment that will probably be obsolete before it can be depreciated. But I think that a more reasonable option can’t be too far away. I remember not so long ago people were paying big buck for the dishes for satellite TV, now I gather the equipment is free or almost free with a subscription to the service.

  7. burning silo Says:

    Pamela – Sounds like you’re in much the same boat then. The deal with the broadband transmitter towers near here is a $200 installation fee, and then I think the service is something like $45 per month (before taxes). If the installation were any higher, I definitely wouldn’t consider it as you’re quite right about the equipment probably being obsolete (or free) in no time. At this price, I guess it’s okay.. but it would be just my luck that Bell is would finally get around to replacing the lines around here and I’d have been able to get DSL if I’d just waited a little longer. I’ve called a few times to see if they have anything planned sometime soon and they keep saying it will “eventually” be in our area. No time frame on the “eventually” part. (-:

  8. Peter Says:

    $45 per month is a reasonble cost for high speed internet, I think DSL/Cable ranges from $35 to $45 too. I’d ask neighbors about the quality of service before I jumped on board for $200. However, that is a pretty decent install cost compared to other companies I have seen offering the same type of service.

    That fly looks familiar, as in I think I have seen one before, but I certainly have no idea about the ID. Great photos as usual though!

  9. Duncan Says:

    I take my hat off to you Bev, and some of the other bloggers, doing what you do on connections like that. ADSL over here costs me $40 au per month with a 10 gig download allowance, and I got it with free setup and router on a 24 month contract. it’s only 256/64, but adequate, I don’t think I could handle blogging and pictures without it.
    Certainly an interesting fly with those bands.

  10. Dave Says:

    Well, all I can say is hang in there. I figured it would be at least a decade until the phone cable laid fiber optic cables through our rural area, but they did it last winter – and didn’t even bother to tell us! If a repairman out on a service call hadn’t mentioned it, we’d still be on 28k and none the wiser.

    As for the fly, I’ve seen some pretty cool-looking ones, but that one takes the cake.

  11. burning silo Says:

    Duncan – Blogging with a very slow connection is certainly a challenge. I became even more aware of that while we were on the east coast and I was posting from hotels using a WiFi connection. I had never done so before and it soon became obvious how much time I spend waitiing while photos upload, download, etc… I must admit that, at home with my dreadful connection, I often get the uploading started, then go and wash some dishes or some such thing, and just check back in a couple of minutes to see if things are finished. Waiting at the computer is like watching paint dry. The same goes for viewing other blogs that use photos — I download them while doing other work. The process will certainly be simplified if and when I get a faster connection. Sounds like you’ve got a pretty good deal there!

    Dave – Yep, I continue to hang in and wait for something to change. The funny thing about all of this is that there is a major pipe (I guess that’s what it’s called), for the closest city that passes through our region just about a mile from my house. Kind of crazy that we’re sitting here with a pitiful dial-up connection over aging telephone lines with all of that cabling passing right by our doorstep!
    As for the fly, yes, what a cool-looking little guy. the bands were quite visible even at a distance, but in a macro photo — wow!

  12. romunov Says:

    Care to share those insect sites?

  13. burning silo Says:

    romunov – Sure, I will do that. Actually, I will post quite a few links, probably in a separate post so that they will be easier to bookmark or access. I may not get around to it right away though as I have a busy next few days getting ready for a trip.
    EDIT: I’ve just added a new “page” to this blog. See the new tab at the top entitled “links to IDs”. I’ll add to it as I have time (might take a little while, but it can be an ongoing project).

  14. Wayne Says:

    Heh – Bev washes dishes. I get the impression you do it manually. So do I!

  15. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – Yes, well, we both wash some dishes here, although we do have a dishwasher for times when we wish to use it. Lots of times it’s not really worth the bother though, especially with just the two of us.