What a week of travels this has been. Just returned from the shores of Lake Erie - Ohio's north coast - and I'm off to Adams County at the crack of dawn tomorrow. The latter is an Ohio River county and about as far away as one can get in from Lake Erie and Kelleys Island and remain in Ohio.
Anyway, it must be a good year for robber flies. These predatory carnivores are the falcons of the fly world, and even the smallest species are impressive. The giant ones are downright scary. I've gotten several photos of the following brute sent to me in the past few weeks. People understandably want to know the name of such a barbaric looking insect. In case you, too, have seen the awesome red-footed cannibal fly, then perhaps this post will be of help to you.
Blue Heron Reserve in Sandusky County. She had just mated, and the sight of two of the beasts coupled and flying about was impressive to say the least. Or scary, depending on your perspective. I was unable to get the lens on them in time to document their amorous behavior. But after all was done and the male went off to smoke a cigarette or whatever it is that male cannibal flies do in the immediate aftermath of a conquest, she settled nicely.
Like other robber flies, the cannibal fly dispatches its victim with a jab from its syringelike proboscis. Toxins rapidly paralyze the prey, and other chemicals rapidly turn the hapless creature's insides to slush. The fearsome cannibal fly then sucks its insides out, just as you would slurp up a milkshake through a drinking straw.
Be thankful these insects aren't the size of Sandhill Cranes.