The Mydidae family contains almost 500 species, ranging in size from gosh, that's a big fly to RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE FROM THE BLACK WINGS OF DEATH! THE SHADOW OF THE MYDAS WILL SWALLOW US ALL!
|Image: Mary Keim|
At least the biggest ones are so loud in flight you can hear their wings buzzing from a mile off. All you need now is a sturdy bomb shelter.
Video: Renato Mattei
In terms of the sheer number of species, the Mydid family is quite small as insects go. It contains a paltry 400 species. That's not bad if you compare it to mammals, where the biggest family contains 700 species of mouse and rat. But insects? Even the mosquito family contains a good 3,500 species! I think Mydids would win in a fight, though.
|Image: EOL Learning and Education Group|
Eremomidas arabicus, in an extremely arid environment
Lots of Mydas Flies are mimics of bees and wasps. This is a great tactic for a harmless, little... sorry... huge though harmless fly who visits flowers. Predators will leave them alone if they look just like one of the hurty-hurty sting-sting insects. They hurt and sting, don't you know.
|Image: Shaun Winterton|
Pseudonomoneura hirta, like a wasp only hairy and a fly
These are Mydas Flies that look like living, flying shadows, liberated from the night and spending their time visiting flowers and enjoying the sun. EVIL. Possibly EVIL on holiday, but EVIL nonetheless.
I love my giant fly and my giant fly tolerates me
Mydas Flies like this are swathed in velvety black, often accompanied by bright orange patches, wings or antennae. They're mimicking big Spider Wasps like Calopompilus validus. Spider Wasps who bear painful stings and know it, too. When potential predators are nearby they don't fly off in a fright. They just stand there, going about their business like nothing's amiss. "It's more than your life's worth, mate," they say.
Mydas Flies are so confident in their ruse they do much the same, just going about their day because no-one would mess with a giant Spider Wasp. To complete the effect they might even wave their long, wasp-like antennae up and down in a frenetic wasp-like way.
Mydas clavatus, lookin' suave
And you know what all that means, right? It means big, fat, hungry larvae! Mydid larvae are again not very well known but they seem to be meat eaters who dwell among plant roots or rotten wood. There they feast on the soft, protein-rich flesh of beetle grubs and the like. Thus, as is so often the case, it's the snotty-nosed children who are the real monsters.