Saturday, June 20, 2009

Robber fly

I found this creature Saturday while on a hike with my sister, Joyce Hornsby. At first I thought it was a large bumblebee, but it landed on a leaf and stayed there. Bees might stay for a while on a flower to consume nectar, but they rarely stay on a leaf for long before moving on. I also noticed it was holding another insect. This was not a bee, but a robber fly!

Robber fly in the genus Laphria holding

what looks to be a large flying ant.

Robber flies in the genus Laphria are bee mimics. This fools predators into believing it is a bee and animals that have already had an unpleasant experience with a bee will shy away from the robber fly and leave it in alone.

Robber flies are in the insect order Diptera, where most flies are found. They have a characteristic mystax which is like an insect moustache. They have three ocelli, extra simple eyes on top of the head that probably aid in catching prey and sensing predators. They have the amazing ability to catch most of their prey on the wing, Once the prey is in its grasp, the robber fly will jab its mouthpart into the unlucky individual and fill it with saliva that has neurotoxins and proteolytic enzymes, enzymes that break down protein. This renders the prey motionless and liquifies its insides. Not the way I would want to go! Then the robber fly slurps it all up like a tasty milkshake. You think the Sopranos were violent? They've got nuthin' on the insect world!!!StumbleUpon

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