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.
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.
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.