I guess I really should say some bugs are cool. I’m not fond of fleas and ticks, for example. But check out the cool bug in the above photo.
I was looking a different photo and stumbled across this one, which I took on my mobile…I guess it’s been a few months ago by now. On that occasion, I was going to lunch and I saw him (or her?) resting near the trunk of a car. I got really, really up close and personal with this guy, and he never flinched. He stood his ground and was still there when I finally went off to buy a sandwich.
I don’t know if they bite people, but I don’t think so. They don’t sting, though that back end looks deceptively similar to a menacing stinger.
Look closely and tell me that doesn’t look like a giant hornet. He has a striped bottom with a pointy tail. If you got face-to-face with him, you’d see that he sports big dark eyes, furry legs, and a really cool beard.
What is this bug?
I took the picture around and asked a few of my co-workers, most of whom did not share my enthusiasm. There was only ONE fellow bug enthusiast in the office, who coincidentally sat at the neighboring desk (or was there a conspiracy to seat the bug enthusiasts together? Hmmm….). We set off in concert to identify this bug. A few Google searches later, we had a match:
Red Footed Cannibalfly.
I know what you’re probably thinking. Shouldn’t you guys be working? Yes, we should have been working, technically. But this was for science. 🙂
Anyway, what we discovered is that he is not a type of hornet, but he is definitely a fierce creature in his own right.
You can’t really tell how big he is since there is no perspective in the photo, but fortunately (for us, not for the insect), someone has has captured and pinned down a specimen:
He is nearly four centimeters long. That’s about two inches, fellow Yankees, and that’s a pretty big bug. Big enough to kill and eat wasps and bees, and that is what he does.
This insect literally takes down and eats large stinging insects. Don’t find that terribly impressive?
Well, get this: he can ALSO take down a Red Throated Hummingbird that’s about twice his size. From the same blog where I got the measuring photo, here is someone describing the scene:
“This morning I watched as a huge Robber Fly attacked and killed a hummingbird. A female Ruby-throat had just started to feed from my feeder, when the Robber Fly, which had been lurking on a Yucca stalk about four feet away, pounced on the poor hummingbird. The hummingbird took off with the Robber Fly attached. She got about twenty feet when she collapsed in a heap on the ground, Robber Fly still attached. The Robber Fly continued his dirty work, feeding on the corpse for almost a half hour…”
I know. Hummingbirds are really cool too, and this is kind of gruesome. That’s the food chain in all its glory.
Nevertheless, as bugs go, this guy is fantastic, subhan’Allah. I hope you get to meet one someday, and get right up face-to-face to check out that cool beard. 🙂
If you’d like to comment, join the discussion where this was originally published on my disqus channel, The Golden Rule.