look into my big, brown eyes

I’ve noticed that there are hardly any damselflies and dragonflies in the backyard wildflower garden this summer.  What a stark contrast to last summer’s glut of meadowhawks and bluets flying around the coneflowers and beebalm.  But there’s a new predator in the garden this year I haven’t seen before.

brown robber fly-

It’s a long-legged Brown Robber fly.

Agile fliers with their long wings, strong legs equipped with stiff spines, and a short piercing beak, they really are formidable predators capable of taking a wide variety of prey from small hoverflies to dragonflies larger than themselves.

brown robber fly-

With eyes positioned on the tops of their heads, they perch in low vegetation and scan for prey foraging on the flowers above them.

brown robber fly-

This Robber Fly moved its head continuously on a mobile neck joint as it sat perched on a leaf — probably checking out the bees foraging on the coneflowers above it. Those long legs are perfect for capturing prey in a bear hug and carrying them off.

Once they have grabbed their prey, they quickly stab their sharp proboscis into it, injecting a mixture of enzymes that will immobilize them and start dissolving their tissues.  Then, once digestion is complete within the prey’s body, the robber fly will suck the dissolved contents back into its own stomach.  A gruesome process, but what an impressive predator.  A video by Mike Blair gives more information about this interesting predator.

8 thoughts on “look into my big, brown eyes

  1. Interesting how you can almost tell at a glance that this is an insect you’d rather not have around, and you’ve provided good reasons why!​ Terry

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