A the movement of a shadowy predator catches my attention at Kanawha Falls. I’d actually come here looking to see if the mushrooms I’d spotted in July were still around but they were gone. The creature moved again and at first I thought it was a Mud Dauber wasp but something was wrong with the flight pattern. It didn’t move like a wasp should move. It’s was at that point I began to suspect that I was being lied to. Mud Daubers are generally non-aggressive even when I’m close to their nests. Sometimes they’ll hover close and try to intimidate you but I’ve never had one actually land on me. Mud Daubers can fly in a curve but tend to prefer flying in straight lines. The dark insect before me now moves in curves and circles like a fly. Still, getting stung by any wasp isn’t really my idea of a good time. So I took out my long lens and zoomed in for a better look. The first thing that struck me was the club like antennae and an abdomen that wasn’t connected to the body by a slender waist. The insect looks like a robber fly but is huge compared to the robber fly. The distinctive reddish orange spots on the abdomen were also an identifying trait. This is a Mydas Fly. Image Titled “Mydas Fly 80420b” showing the iridescent blue sheen on the wings.
The Mydas Fly buzzed me a few times and flicked it’s a few times in an effort to convince me that I was about to be stung. I called it’s bluff and moved a closer. It charged me and pulled away st the last second.
Most likely it’s there simply to lay eggs in the rotting log. It needs to do this because it’s babies are predators. The larvae actually resemble the Graboid monster from the movie Tremors. The maggot has an armored head with powerful looking jaws and it hunts beetle larvae. There’s actually over 400 species of Mydas Flies and some lay eggs in the soil instead of wood. Because they hunt destructive grubs they’re being studied as a natural control on pests.Image Titled “Mydas Fly 80420c” showing the “claws” on the hind legs.
My internet research says that the adult Mydas Fly is also a predator. A closer look at the hind legs shows that they are built like the front legs of a preying mantis. The claw structure is pointed forward suggesting that the a Mydas Fly overtakes it’s pretty in mid flight. There’s actually controversy in the scientific community about the feeding habits of Mydas Flies because they have been seen pollinating and eating nectar. I suppose that nobody has considered that they might be omnivorous.
After a few minutes I decided it was time to leave the Mydas Fly to go do Mydas Fly things in peace. Perhaps at some point I’ll be able to photograph one with prey and put an end to the controversy.
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