Robber Flies: The assassins of the insect world

Robber Flies eat fellow bugs from the larvae to the grownup stage in a single of Nature’s most rigorously crafted mechanisms

Throughout my life, and I’m afraid to say, even till someday after I used to be launched to nature and wildlife, I had the false impression that bugs had been depending on vegetation for meals. In 2016, I found the vicious Robber Fly at the Aravalli Biodiversity Park, Gurugram. With over 7,000 species described, the world of these Robber Flies, is so numerous that a complete household, Asilidae, has been created for them. They’re named for his or her feeding behaviour: they ‘rob’ different bugs of their lives!

They are available in numerous colors however the ones present in Delhi-NCR are principally brown and black. Although people could solely have the ability to see two giant compound eyes on heads of Robber Flies, they do have three small easy eyes (referred to as ocelli) wedged between these two massive eyes. There’s additionally a bristly moustache — greater than a vogue assertion, this deters struggling prey from inflicting injury to the Robber Fly.

Their agile flight, impeccable eyesight, fast reflexes, and robust spiny legs assist them catch bugs in flight: different flies, beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies, moths, carnivorous dragonflies. They even feast on spiders generally. They pierce their sturdy dagger-like proboscis (tubular straw-like organ to absorb meals) into their prey, normally between the head and thorax, to subdue them. They inject victims with their saliva containing neurotoxic enzymes to paralyze, and proteolytic enzymes to liquify the innards of their prey. They then fly off with the prey between their legs to an undisturbed department, the place they suck the innards by the proboscis.

They patiently stalk different bugs from vantage factors and make a swift but swish, silent flight on the first opening they see It took me nearly two years to really see this opportunistic murderer hunt one other black fly in air. This behaviour has additionally introduced them their different identify: Assassin Flies.

Like all bugs, they too have a three-segmented physique: head, thorax, and stomach. The females lay eggs utilizing an ovipositor connected to the stomach, a tubular organ that helps them retailer and lay eggs. The eggs are laid in vegetation near the floor or in nooks and crannies of soil or picket barks.

When the eggs hatch, the larvae typically lives in soil or in wooden and is predatory in nature, feeding on eggs and larvae of different bugs. In quick, the species in each larvae in addition to the grownup stage is a bane for different beings. In order to resist the excessive winter, Robber Flies typically overwinter in the soil as larvae or as pupa earlier than rising once they really feel that the weather conditions are beneficial.

I at all times thought I’d should be in the wilder areas of the metropolis to see this magnificent creature however I just lately noticed it in an city park in entrance of my home.

These predators preserve a fragile steadiness in the meals chain and in addition assist rid your yard of pests. Participants on our nature trails have additionally witnessed Robber Flies being hunted by larger dragonflies in the neighborhood, however these cases are uncommon.

The author is the founder of NINOX – Owl About Nature, a nature-awareness initiative. He is the Delhi-NCR reviewer for Ebird, a Cornell University initiative, monitoring uncommon sightings of birds. He previously led a programme of WWF India.

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