13 June 2010

Breakfast in the Garden

Robber fly (Efferia aestuans) at rest, June 2010
Robber fly consuming moth, June 2010

Watering my friend's kitchen garden (from which I will post many more pictures when I go home this afternoon) I saw this creature flitting around but couldn't get close enough to photograph it. Then he perched on the garden gate and didn't move as I approached... and I soon saw why: breakfast trumps flight. I suppose this moth would have met an untimely end with a porchlight tonight anyway; just as well it fed a fellow garden creature.

And a strange creature this is indeed; it sounds like a pesky housefly but looks kind of like a dragonfly, and it seems to hover rather than just flit. Turns out it is indeed a cousin to the housefly; the robber fly is of the order Diptera, same as house flies and fruit flies and horse flies and all those other pesky critters. Family Asilidae includes 7100 or so species of so-called robber flies that, unlike their Musca domestica cousins, prefer to dine on live prey.

And thus ends our lesson on flying insects... for now.

No comments: