Thursday, 22 August 2013

Assassins in our midst . . .

Not much to report on the dragon front, but this beastie at Far Pasture needed further investigation I reckoned, as it seemed to have some sort of fly in its clutches.

I thought it may have been a horse-fly but on investigation it seems it's a type of Robber Fly, another fascinating if not gruesome inhabitant of the macro-world, though I prefer their other common name, Assassin Fly, which sounds more sinister and I think suits them better on learning of their habits :
Like dragonflies they feed on flying insects caught in mid-air, and like darters they strike out from a perch, catching the prey in their bristly legs, but the comparison stops there. The prey is taken to the perch (in this case the fence) to be eaten but instead of crunching jaws, the robber fly has a short proboscis with which it pierces its victim, releasing a chemical mix which acts first as a paralyser to subdue the 'meal' then disolves the insect's innards which are sucked up the proboscis like a straw until they are basically sucked dry, empty husk discarded.

Assassin in Action
Proboscis injected into the thorax of the fly, soon to be sucked dry.
For those who like useless information the white 'beard' is there to protect
the eyes of the robber from flailing limbs apparently and is
called a Mystax from the Greek for moustache.

But it's another case of science fact meets science fiction, their method of dispatching prey wouldn't be out of place in a sci-fi horror. I've seen quite a few of these in the Far Pasture area and apparently they aren't averse to sticking their needle-like mouthparts into humans either, so take heed, evil is out there !!!


  1. The old Assassin Fly is not far behind the Dragon. I remember capturing (on camera) this wee beastie a few years ago and like yourself Alan, was blown away by its habits after some research.
    The missus and younger son are both sci fi fans (it bores me silly) and i told them about this creature and they weren't particularly impressed. Can't understand it !!
    Nice to pop back and visit the Robber.

  2. Life in the macro-world is far more interesting than the more noticeable animals which get most of the limelight, a lot more to it than just being a vital part of the food chain.