So, last week . . . I was squatting down next to one of the the lawn ornaments, snapping away at the flowering carnation plant, and all of a sudden a loud noise like a miniature outboard motor, right next to my face.
I’m not afraid of insects, really I’m not. I have an Official Bug Transport Vehicle (a.k.a. yellow Solo cup) I use to relocate various insects from inside my house to the great outdoors. Spiders, centipedes, multilegged, multi-eyed, small, large, it makes no difference to me; I capture them, and release them outside.
But I’ve never saw one of these, and the first thing I thought was “GHOUL!”
Before I go onto the rest of the photos, please look at the above carefully . . . that white thing that looks like the bug’s face? Not the bug’s face, but another bug, one it had just caught.
The captured bug was still moving . . . Let me tell you, I was glad this thing already had a meal.
Now, as I was shooting this, I had not noticed the other bug. I thought it was all one bug thing. I didn’t even notice when it did this . . .
. . . and repositioned to the other side of the copper stand. And let me tell you something else; these things are FAST!
I then noticed the captured bug, mostly because it was still alive and moving. The Ghoul had repositioned it so it could feast on the juicy parts of the unfortunate victim.
You can click on the photos for a larger version that will open on a new tab or window, or you can go see the full size photos in Smugmug (HERE).
I was worried it might fly off, but I risked repositioning to get a better shot (I had switched to shooting for speed, so I have a shallow depth of field – I need not have bothered; this thing was content to sit there and suck on its poor victim).
I hoped the meal was dead, otherwise that’s a pretty gruesome way to go.
The write-up says the Robber Fly is a medium-to-large bug, up to 5cm – that’s two inches, and I estimate this thing to have been all of that.
This next shot shows a little better the “short stout proboscis enclosing the sharp, sucking hypopharynx” (text from Wikipedia).
I risked getting closer, and in a blur and outboard-motor noise it flew off. Again, I will say these things are FAST! I mean, it makes sense since they are predators . . . but when I say fast, I mean it crossed my yard, the road, and was lost from sight in something like a second and a half, maybe two.
I had never seen (or heard) of a Robber Fly before that day. I then saw more (but smaller) when I went weeding, when I cut the grass, and when I watered the plants. In all, four or five times during the next week or so.
Which brings me to today . . . I went out to get the mail, and there were two smaller (about an inch and a half) on the concrete drive. I pulled my phone, and got right in the face of one of them . . .
. . . and was a bit startled when this thing reared up!
That white bit on the tail signifies a male. I pressed on . . .
. . . and a bit closer yet.
The phone has a wide angle lens, so I was pretty close when I snapped that last one. About then, the fly flew a few feet away. I went to get the mail, and they were still there when I returned to the spot.
It looked like an invitation to me, so I went to get my camera. This next shot is of the female of the pair.
And guess what? She was having a meal.
The shots were done with the 105mm macro lens, and I was laying down on the ground . . . the neighbors probably just shook their heads and went back to tending their dogs and kids.
Meanwhile, the male had not moved from where it had flown.
It did not seem too perturbed as I circled around it.
It was little effort to swing back to the female.
. . . I guess Cecelia did not head out East after all . . .
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.