Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gnat-ogre

If you've got wings, and would fit between the one and two millimeter marks on a ruler, I'd advise staying out of the sights of the creature above. This is the tiny but deadly Gnat-ogre, Holcocephala fusca, and I photographed this individual last Thursday at Resthaven Wildlife Area.

Gnat-ogres are robberflies, just on a nearly impossibly small scale. I like this group of carnivorous flies, and have written about them many times. The robberflies are certainly a successful lineage of the massive Dipteran Order, and the various species come in many forms. The largest of their lot in this part of the world is the giant Red-footed Cannibal Fly, Promachus hinei, a true horrorshow. It would take possibly thousands of the Gnat-ogre pictured here to make a cannibal fly.

Small as it may be, the Gnat-ogre is every bit as aggressively predacious as its larger brethren. The animal in my photo has a victim - some sort of small winged creature that would be nearly invisible to the naked eye. Given that the ogre is only 2-3 millimeters in length, you can get a sense of how truly elfin its prey is.

There are predators operating at every level. While the mighty Peregrine Falcon is millions of times larger than this Gnat-ogre, their modus operandi are essentially the same. And each is equally deadly, in their own way.

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