Wednesday 30 November 2011

Robber Fly

Image: Wikipedia
I've always sort of liked Robber Flies. I knew a bit about their predatory nature and strangely chunky legs, but I never knew much more than that.

It's a bit like being aware of a movie that was out when you were a child, you never saw it but you know you would've really loved it if you had.

Well, I'm glad to finally find out some more about this formidable, aerial predator. And I must say, I'm impressed!.

Robber Flies are some 7,000 species of true fly in the family Asilidae. They're found all over the world, and range in size from half a centimetre or so (about 0.2 inches) to about 5 cm (2 in) long.

Image: Wikipedia
They have huge eyes which, because of a depression at the top of the head, seem to bulge out. Either that or they simply do actually bulge out. They also have a moustache of bristly hairs above their mouthparts. They don't really do kissing.

Most look hunchbacked, with their head attached halfway down a large thorax. They also tend to have a  long, slim abdomen, though others are much thicker-bodied and are remarkable mimics of wasps or bees.

The main thing, though... the real "Robber Fly" thing... is their amiable lust for killing.

Image: Wikimedia
Robber Flies are ferocious, powerful predators of insects, largely flying insects. With speed, strength and poison, they capture prey straight out of the air. With their methods they can take down creatures bigger than themselves, and large ones can even humble the formidable Dragonfly.

It must be tactics like that which earned them the codename Assassin Fly. It appears that the main thing they rob is life or souls or something, so at least your jewellery is safe.

Video: JustNature
Scanning the skies because SOMETHING MUST DIE!

You will often find Robber Flies hanging out on the ground or on logs or plants during the hottest part of the day. They scan the skies above them, their head-dominating eyes alert for the sight of flesh on the wing.

With prey spotted, the Robber takes to the air and gives chase. Their muscles, freshly warmed by the Sun's heat, allows them to outpace their mark.

The Robber plucks its victim from the air with long, thick legs and returns to its perch. Long, pointed mouthparts seek out a weak spot in the struggling bundle of exoskeleton. Enzymes are injected, some to paralyse, others to liquefy innards.

Video: JustNature

Soon, the struggle is over as a life breaks down into its constituent sludge.

Image: Wikipedia
The Robber Fly appears to enjoy this picnic. They are sometimes called "Hanging Thieves" for their habit of dangling from a leg or two while the other limbs manipulate their hard won corpse.

Image: Wikimedia
They suck the juices from it. It's like a monkey eating a banana as it hangs from a tree. Only less endearing and substantially more gruesome.

In fact, the whole thing is like a flying spider. The Wizard of Oz may have missed a trick.

Little is known about what traumatic life experiences may have led to this monstrous behaviour.

Larval Robber Flies are maggots that live in dark, moist areas like soil, logs and decay. Like their parents they are voracious predators, this time on eggs and the soft bodied larvae of other insects.

But, while the adults so clearly dominate their domain, the youth are largely shrouded in mystery.

But not for long

Soon these worms will attain their shimmering wings of glorious death. Stepping out of the shadows, the time to bring horror to the sunny uplands has come...


Drhoz said...

Wasn't it the Wicked Witch who had the monkeys?

Joseph JG said...

Yes. I meant more the film rather than particular characters in the film. Having said that, a few flying beasts of some description could have helped the Wizard hide behind his big, boomy voice a little longer...