Skip to main content

A homicidal "bumblebee"

If you are smaller than, say, a hummingbird, you don't want to get locked in the sights of this beast. In fact, this is the LAST thing you'd want to find staring at you, hungrily.

I visited some friends' property in Hocking County last Sunday, and we had a tremendous field trip, full of interesting finds (more on that in a later post). At one point, we stood quietly in a woodland clearing, as I had just spotted a basking hairstreak butterfly. Suddenly, with a loud buzzing of the wings, this huge bumblebee mimic robberfly, Laphria grossa, flew in and took center stage.

I find these creatures amazing. Their resemblance to a fuzzy black and yellow bumblebee is uncanny, and that's likely what you would think it was from any distance. Move in, as in this photo, and the fly's jig is up. Huge eyes, only one set of wings, and a longish abdomen that the robberfly curls down in an arc. Finally, there's no peaceful lapping of nectar for this animal - it has a rigid syringelike proboscis mounted to its head.

When a victim - usually a flying insect - is sighted, the robberfly takes off with a noisy whirring of the wings, like a six-legged Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter. It quickly scrambles to its target, and basically enfolds the hapless prey with its long legs and abdomen. Then, the coup de grace is administered. That pipelike proboscis is jammed in, and the equivalent of battery acid is injected. The robberfly will flutter down to a perch with its prey, and when the victim's innards have softened to the consistency of a milkshake, the fly will suck it dry with its versatile proboscis, leaving little more than a dried husk.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: DON'T come back as an insect.

Comments

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…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…