Skip to main content

Red-footed Cannibal Fly

A bumble bee, genus Bombus. Mild-mannered but large and somewhat intimidating, most critters give them a wide berth. They can sting, you know. So, for the most part these big fuzzy bees bumble about the flower patch with impunity, not probably giving a lot of thought to danger. After all, who is going to tussle with one of these black and yellow behemoths?

This. It's a Red-footed Cannibal Fly, Promachus hinei, and there are few insects higher up on the predator chain. As you can see, it has captured a bumble bee and is enjoying the fruits of its kill. If these things ever evolve to the size of Trumpeter Swans, I pity the humanoids that walk the earth in that grim future landscape.

The consumate killer, this robber fly misses nothing and seemingly can take out nearly any other insect. I once saw an amazing photo of one that had captured an Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly. Well, pondhawks are pretty much the goshawks of the dragonfly world, routinely snagging and eating other dragonflies up to their own size if not larger. For a fly, of all things, to take one out is amazing.

While exploring some Adams County prairies last Sunday, our group encountered several cannibal flies, but none so cool as this one. It was something to watch it lug that bee around, and after a bit of patient stalking, I was able to get my lens within a foot or so. It's perched on a Little Bluestem grass, Schizachyrium scoparium.

The world of flies is indeed wacky, wonderful, and diverse in the extreme. They can be annoying, such as the common houseflies that haunt your garbage. Some are mimics extraordinaire, looking all the world like bees or wasps. Many are harmless pollinators of flowers. Some are dangerous and insidious death-dealers - parasitoids - laying their eggs on other insect hosts which will eventually be eaten alive by the larvae.

Then there is this - the Red-footed Cannibal Fly. It gets my vote as King of Fly World, at least in these parts.


Wil said…
Wow, how cool is that. Great find to see one and get close enough to photograph it with prey. Yes, I can just imagine the SciFi with the giant robber flies...Steven, I have an idea...

Bj said…
Thanks for teaching me something today! I got a picture I'd like for you to see and let me know if it's the same type. Go to July 20 post. Click on the bee photo to see the larger image. Thanks
Teresa said…
I had one land on my head the other day. It felt big and I could hear the deep hum of its wings. Then I saw it and pretty much totally freaked out and ran into house as fast as possible. Haha! I was pretty sure it was going to eat me and my children. I tools some photos & posted on FB but no one knew what it was. They weren't the best photos. Then today I saw it again and it had a wasp killed in its grasp. Way bigger than the wasp too. It's become my new favorite bug. It's just way too cool the more I learn about it. We've named ours Tim. Hopefully it'll stick around. Ha!

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…