Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Big Black Horse Fly

Last week seems serene now in retrospect. Afternoon and nighttime rains brought out many adorable, tiny spring peepers. I saw four in one day sitting quietly on leaves in our yard.
Equally delightful small red efts dotted moist woodland trails.
This week it was more about the insects. We often have insects flying or crawling about the inside of our house--bugs, flies, spiders, moths, and other smallish things that sneak in an open door or on the dogs or in a basket of harvested vegetables. They don't bother me. This week we found a lovely moth, with markings similar to a religious cloak -- I identified it as a clymene moth (Haploa clymene), a type of tiger moth. Cool, right?

Today was a little darker. After I finished some field work around midday, got into my car and rolled down the windows, I heard a low buzz. It sounded at first like a bee but then I saw this really HUGE fly (more than one inch long) on the hatch window. Well, I wasn't about to drive off with that buzzing about. I got out and took a few snaps through the window. This fly was all black and reminded me immediately of Darth Vader. Except, when I looked it up on the Internet after getting home (and after I allowed it to escape my car) I learned that it was a female black horse fly (Tabanus atratus). The males feed on nectar, while the females require mammalian blood. She was looking for a meal, but I escaped. Although, when she finally flew out of the car she zoomed around the car and me a few times; she could smell the CO2 in my breath. So, I jumped back in the car and zoomed off the other way.

Here she is....I was a little intimidated! 
I read online that they don't bite humans often, but when they do it is a memorable experience. I prefer the cute little peepers and efts.

2 comments:

  1. Yet another of your totally delightful reports, Ellen!

    It's easy to see why the female black horse fly reminded you immediately of Darth Vader!

    And yes, that clymene moth is indeed totally cool. I'd venture to say that it in some ways resembles a stealth bomber aircraft! :-)

    John

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  2. Thanks John! I think I am enjoying the sightings more now that I am far away from that black fly!

    Happy hiking this weekend--looks to be a great stretch of weather.

    Ellen

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