provided by EOL authors
Two different biologies are found among the conopids. Most conopids are endoparasites of social Hymenoptera, bees and wasps. Stylogastrine conopids are endoparasites of orthopteroids, specifically of cockroaches and crickets (Smith & Cunningham-van Somersen, 1985; Woodley & Judd, 1998). Most conopid flies are found at flowers, where mating takes place and, in many cases, females find suitable hosts in which to lay their eggs. Females attack their hosts by dorsally inserting their eggs into the abdomen. The larvae develop first by feeding on haemolymph and in their last instar attack the tissue of the thorax, weakening and then killing the host. Pupation takes place in the abdomen. Most conopids are not host specific and will strike a variety of aculeate hymenopterans (Smith, 1966). With the exception of Stylogaster, where more than one egg is laid per host, only one adult is known to emerge (Smith, 1969a; Schmid-Hempel & Schmid-Hempel, 1989). Host records are summarized by Meijere (1912), Freeman (1966), and Smith (1966). Stylogastrine conopids are mainly found in association with army ants, where they are concentrated at the front of the swarm and up to two meters in advance of the swarm (Rettenmeyer, 1961). They have not been recorded at flowers. Females seek out and dive at their hosts disturbed by the ants, using their impact to secure recurrently barbed eggs in the host cuticle (Kotrba, 1997). The larvae develop in the host the same way as other conopids. Not all stylogastrine conopids are associated with army ants as they occur in areas where there are none, so much remains to be learned about their behavior. Also, because of the chaos associated with army ant swarms, accidents do happen and other non-orthopteroid species appear to be attacked, such as tachinids, other Stylogaster, and the ants themselves. No successful rearing, however, has been noted from these other victims, but see Stuckenberg (1963) and Smith (1969b, 1979) for circumstantial evidence of parasitization of Diptera. While many conopid flies are found at flowers, thus contributing to the economy as pollinators, they are also parasites of bees. Hence, their overall importance is perhaps balanced. They have been noted as an important pest of honey bees (VanDuzee, 1934; Severin, 1937; Jamieson, 1941; Smith, 1966; Zimina, 1973; Huttinger, 1974; Mei, 1999), so in some commercial situations they are harmful. Stylogastrine conopids, which seem not to be pollinators and are only endoparasites of wild orthopteroid species, are of little economic interest to humans. Much needs to be discovered about conopid biology. Rearing conopids is an effective way to generate specimens for taxonomy and adds much needed biological information. Parasitized hosts can be easily obtained as the conopid larva always weakens its host before it completes its own development. Parasitized bees may be found at the entrance to their hives or nest or may remain in the field overnight. These parasitized host bees may be simply collected and kept, and with a little luck adult conopids will emerge. In addition to rearing, a variety of collecting methods are useful for capturing adult conopids. Malaise traps are the best type of trap to use, while hand collecting at flowers, on hilltops (Mei et al., 2009), at army ant swarms (Stylogaster only), and by sweeping are also effective. Accounts of the immature stages of conopids are widely scattered in the literature, but Ferrar (1987) gives a summary and Woodley & Judd (1998) provide additional information on Stylogaster).