bug

An insect’s worst nightmare

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Well, readers pounced on “Name That Insect” like an assassin fly.

Props to Lee, who accurately identified this insect as a “robber fly,” less than hour after I published the post.

But nice details from Lyn, who also buzzed in correctly, adding, “They are a predatory fly that captures its prey mid-flight. It then stabs its victim and uses its hypopharynx to suck the guts out of the unfortunate prey.”

Wikipedia offers similarly vivid imagery about the robber fly, which is also called an assassin fly:

It waits in ambush and “attacks its prey by stabbing it with its short, strong proboscis [ie, elongated, tubular mouth] injecting the victim with saliva containing neurotoxic enzymes, which rapidly paralyze the victim and soon digests the insides. The fly then sucks the liquefied material through the proboscis.”

Sounds like the insect world’s version of a mobster/alien — the stuff that keeps young flies and bees awake at night!

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Name That Insect, 2016

Wow, it’s been two years since we’ve played the “Name That Bug” game. (And I’ve renamed the contest when I realized that, while all bugs are insects, not all insects are bugs. Blame my nonexistent editor.)

Anyway, November 2014 was the last time I posted one of these. Need a refresher? Click here for that one, and here for the answer.  And here’s another fun one — it wasn’t a reader challenge, but a colorful species just the same.

I wouldn’t have a “Name That Insect” post were it not for my friend Hunter, who thinks of me whenever she spies some freaky looking insect. And since she presently resides in a far-flung desert outpost near Joshua Tree National Park, she comes across plenty of winged oddities. Like this one:

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So what is it? And is it chowing down on a late lunch, or taking advantage of this fly in other ways?

Details: about an inch-and-a-half in length; observed clinging to the side of Hunter’s California home, in the shade.

Come on you wannabe entomologists — y’all did pretty well with the last one.

I’ve done a bit of digging and have a guess, but I’ll wait for your answers before I query my insect expert.

As always, the prize is pride and bragging rights.

 

 

Beetle Results & Other Housekeeping

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Today’s Funny Farm post is all about updates.

First up: the beetle report.

In response to the most recent “name that bug,” contest, I heard from a lot of you dung beetle lovers.

Alas, the mottled insect pictured above is not the poop-slinging variety.

It is Dynastes tityus — better known as the eastern Hercules beetle. Or rhinoceros beetle, if you prefer. And the pinups I featured were both females, as readers Sarah O’Halloran and Lee Miller correctly noted.

Congrats, you two.

 

Next on the docket: The Chopper report.

Remember when Jazz went Mike Tyson on my arm? (Original post, here.) I wouldn’t say that he’s 100% reformed, but Jazz has repressed his bad behavior.

Thanks to lime juice.

I launched my citrus attack shortly after the big bite. I didn’t wait for an attempted strike; the moment he flattened his ears, I delivered a shot of lime juice. He curled his lip with distaste. After a few sessions, Jazz put two and two together.

As for the injury, the brilliant bruise has vanished but the swelling remains. It looks less like a goose egg. More like a speed bump. And it’s astonishingly tender after three weeks’ recovery.

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Jazz: “What, me bite? Pish posh.”

 

Finally, outbuilding repairs. Last month I mentioned our barn roof woes and debated the merits of scheduling our Amish crew to commence construction in the fall, versus spring. Readers voted for now, not later. And we agreed.

Recently, I signed the contract and cut a check toward materials and labor. Project barn roof replacement starts:

Tomorrow!

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