At times, I hate flies. Especially here in the Indian summer when there are millions of them buzzing around. In fact there are so many of them at certain times of the year that eating outside becomes a major hassle. Flies have convinced me not to eat fruit salads from February til June after my lunch break, because I ended up spending more time waving my hands in a manic manner than actually savouring the fresh fruit, scared of the distasteful habits of flies. Imagine them sitting on a piece of garbage or worse some feces and then on that yummy mango, well thank you, I am not hungry any more.
Good to know that nature has many things in store for flies. Gruesome death comes in many forms. One especially wicked and fast end for flies comes in the form of a larger fly. When I first learned about Robber flies, I just thought it very fair that at least some flies take the responsibility to clean up the mess caused by their pest relatives.
Robber flies (Asilidae) are the perfect predator: Large compound eyes (often in funky metallic colours) and a face moustached with bristles (called Mystax), which protects them against possible moves of defense of their prey, not that this would be a real threat, though.
They have a very short and strong proboscis (= mouth part), which they use to stab their victim. They often hunt in flight and once they have caught their prey, which also includes wasps (very good!), spiders, butterflies and other insects, they inject their saliva which contains enzymes and neurotoxins, paralyzing and dissolving the organs of their victims. They later suck in the liquefied victim and leave an empty shell. Imagining a human with a metal straw attacking a tender coconut, well you get the idea.
The sad part is that these guys don’t seem to do too well in cities and prefer a more natural setup. House flies, bottle flies and fruit flies on the other hand thrive in human environment. Hence, we have to take care of the cities, through proper sanitation, insect proofing of our homes and of course electronic light and glue board traps. Considering that life in the countryside holds innumerable ways of dying for these pests, ranging form being stabbed and sucked dry by robber flies and spiders, being eaten up in a whole by reptiles, amphibians and birds, being eaten up slowly and alive by dragonflies and ants, I understand that a life in the city sounds much safer… If it were not for us pest controllers, harr harr harr.