Wednesday 9 April 2014

Ochtheran Mantis Fly

Image: Tony

OK, not really. They're actually Shore Flies, so they can still ruin your day at the beach.

Image: Ian Jacobs
The big thing about Shore Flies is the incredible range of horrific habitats in which their aquatic larvae can thrive. There are species that brave salt lakes, alkaline lakes, hot springs and even one that lives in naturally occurring pools of petroleum!

Most of these Maggots of Steel are herbivores and develop into adults who leave their Hellish pool to feed on algae or plant life.

Not all, though!

Video: Rui Andrade

The 40 or so species in the genus Ochthera are predators, young and old. Their larvae don't live in the kind of severe environments of some of their relatives, so they get to feed on mosquito and midge larvae.

Image: Katja Schulz
Adults are similarly blood-thirsty and particularly partial to adult mosquitoes and midges. Ochthera is not so much a thorn in their side as an entire meat-eating rose bush. Or something.

Presumably they spot their prey through the power of eyesight, since they have the kind of huge, faintly demonic eyes we see in Tiger Beetles. They lack the massive mandibles, though. But that's not a problem...

Image: Malcolm Storey
Not when you have giant, beefy forelimbs for grabbing hold of prey. These are what you call raptorial appendages, the kind of thing used to such great effect by Praying Mantises, Tailless Whip Scorpions and Mantis Shrimp. That's insects, arachnids and crustaceans... seems big, spiky legs is the essential choice for the fashion-conscious killer!

It's not all about eating, though. It looks like Mantis Flies also use their massive legs for display, waving them around with a peculiar mix of twitchiness and grace. It looks like a mad, old sorcerer casting a spell after partaking of way too many smoky potions these past, long years. Ozzy Osbourne, basically.

Perhaps this dark ritual is involved in attracting a mate?

Image: Katja Schulz
After all, who could possibly resist the spiky embrace of the Mantis Fly?


Big thanks to Lear's Fool for introducing me to this one!


Crunchy said...

It's like a fly designed by a death metal band!

Joseph JG said...

Haha! Nice!

TexWisGirl said...

eating mosquito larva = good fly. :)

Lear's Fool said...

It must REALLY suck to be mosquito-tiny.

I mean, I complain about traffic and such. . . they have houseflies the size of school busses with scythe-arms.

Heh, and that dance IS kind of gracefully twitchy, isn't it?

natsukah said...

Oh, it was a nice surprise to see that the first video is in my home country. I MUST see these beautiful creatures in person!

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: Always nice when they can pay their way!

@Lear's Fool: Far too many things trying to catch you, snatch you and splat you! Terrifying! Mosquitoes are soooo brave...

@natsukah: Ooooo! Yes you must!

Porakiya said...

where were these guys when I was a mosquito magnet?!

Joseph JG said...

Flies are never there when you want them. Only when you don't!