The “Zombie Fly”

Many of you may be asked about this new information on “The Zombie Fly.” Isn’t it interesting that this story would break in the media on the very same day that the Purdue Study is finally published? So far, no media attention to the Purdue Study. The suspicion of course is that this is one more attempt to divert attention away from pesticides.

We have known of the Phorid Fly for a long time and its occassional association with honeybees. It has been inconsequential. So if it is appearing in honeybee colonies in larger numbers, what is the explanation? I have pondered this and here is what I think may be the reason.

The Iowa story of a month ago documented the biologist who had been monitoring the population of native bees and had observed an 80% drop in their populations in the last 10 years. A survey of bumblebees has shown that 4 common U.S. species have declined dramatically with some on the verge of extinction. The likelihood is that others are declining as well and just haven’t been monitored yet, I spoke over Christmas with a friend who monitors bumblebees and she reports an absence of many species right here in Colorado.

The primary host of the Phorid Fly is bumblebees, If you remove that host, what will the fly do? Look for an alternate host of course, and since the bumblebee and native bee population has been decimated, it shifts to what had been only an occassional host, the honeybee, in a desperate effort to survive. The honeybees are still out there because beekeepers have gone to great efforts to keep colonies alive. In other words, that population is being artificially maintained. If it weren’t for the beekeeepers the honeybee population would be disappearing along with the bumblebees and other native pollinators.

If indeed the Phorid Fly is appearing on honeybees in greater numbers, I believe the most plausible explanation may be that this is one more symptom of the impoverishment of the environment by pesticides, As they spin this story at us to take the focus away from pesticides we need to spin it right back at them.

Tom Theobald

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