And the winner is…

| 17 Comments

with contributions by Matt Young

We forgot to declare a winner of the “general” category yesterday The winner is Nicholas Plummer for his splendid photograph of a Robber Fly Eating a Wasp.

Robber fly (possibly Promachus rufipes, red-footed cannibalfly) eating a wasp that it has caught in flight, by Nicholas Plummer.

The Talk Origins Archive Foundation has generously offered to provide the winner with an autographed copy of Why Evolution Works (and Creationism Fails), by Matt Young and Paul Strode. (Update: we may have more options for the winner to choose from.)

(Mr. Plummer, Please send your mailing address to [Enable javascript to see this email address.].)

17 Comments

I guess a lot of readers hate wasps!

There’s a book called “Does Anything Eat Wasps?

I guess the answer is Robber Flies!

Thanks!

FWIW, this guy was photographed on a white painted rail in my backyard in North Carolina. My father was visiting and spotted it as he wandered around the garden, and we both snapped a bunch of pictures from different angles. I was able to push the lens to within a couple of inches of the fly without disturbing it. I guess that wasp was tasty.

Man you must either have very big flies over there or very small wasps!!! :) Searching around on the web I’m guessing the former. How big is that fly??

Congratulations,great photograph!!

Thanatos,

yeah, they’re pretty big, but that was a smallish wasp. Maybe 4 cm for the fly? I recently saw one that had caught a large carpenter bee, and the bee was heavier but not as long.

About half way down this page, there’s a great account about one of these flies attacking a hummingbird: http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek070901.html Formidable beasties.

Congratulations, Nick! Nice capture!

Coming from someone in the northern Triangle area (Hillsborough), whereabouts in NC?

I see these buggers, of all sizes, fairly frequently now this time of year - they’re quite loud when they whizz past you. I amused myself a couple weeks ago by accidentally discovering that a perching one would repeatedly launch itself after pieces of twig that I tossed nearby, then return to its perch. Very aggressive!

Just Al,

Hillsborough, believe it or not. (Well, actually just east of Hillsborough. Orange County but Durham address.)

Nickp said:

Thanatos,

yeah, they’re pretty big, but that was a smallish wasp. Maybe 4 cm for the fly? I recently saw one that had caught a large carpenter bee, and the bee was heavier but not as long.

About half way down this page, there’s a great account about one of these flies attacking a hummingbird: http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek070901.html Formidable beasties.

Read that.Just before posting my previous comment. Strange New World.Insects attacking birds … :)

Well then the wasps you have can also be tiny. If the fly in the picture is just about 4cm then how long is the wasp?About 1cm or 0.5cm?? (can’t be sure,perspective is a problem..) Never seen a wasp (or bee) that small here(Greece,Europe)…

Thanatos said:

If the fly in the picture is just about 4cm then how long is the wasp?About 1cm or 0.5cm?? (can’t be sure,perspective is a problem..) Never seen a wasp (or bee) that small here(Greece,Europe)…

I think the band pattern on the abdomen fits Vespula maculifrons, but I agree it seems unusually small. Perhaps a wasp expert can comment on size variation or small species of Vespula.

Great shot, Nick.

I’m envisioning that robber fly playing Richard III in an all-insect production. The wasp can be one of the little princes.

Nickp said:

Just Al,

Hillsborough, believe it or not. (Well, actually just east of Hillsborough. Orange County but Durham address.)

Heh, GTFO! That’s almost frightening ;-) I’m just south of town myself, can hear I-40 at night. Small world…

John Harshman said:

I’m envisioning that robber fly playing Richard III in an all-insect production. The wasp can be one of the little princes.

A Horsefly, a horsefly! My Kingdom for a horsefly!

Thanatos said:

Strange New World.Insects attacking birds … :)

I once watched a sparrow repeatedly dive bomb a cat. The cat was hiding under a car, and every time it got about halfway out, the sparrow came in and swooped right at the cat, who quickly retreated back under the car. I watched for about ten minutes in utter disbelief, but unfortunately I had to leave, so I did not find out what happened in the end.

I once watched a sparrow repeatedly dive bomb a cat.

Must have been protecting a nest.

Chipmunks actually like to eat eggs and possibly even immature birds (appearances can be deceiving). They’re a lot smaller than cats, obviously, and I’ve heard that birds sometimes defend quite defensively aggressively against them. As an interesting and borderline relevant observation, I was in a large city park that I go to sometimes, where chipmunks are seen, not long ago. I happened to be in an observant mood, and I noticed that chipmunks’ fur is remarkably good camouflage, and there are a lot more of them out there than I may have previously realized.

As for insects eating birds, though, I must say that the birds are way ahead.

william e emba said:

Thanatos said:

Strange New World.Insects attacking birds … :)

I once watched a sparrow repeatedly dive bomb a cat. The cat was hiding under a car, and every time it got about halfway out, the sparrow came in and swooped right at the cat, who quickly retreated back under the car. I watched for about ten minutes in utter disbelief, but unfortunately I had to leave, so I did not find out what happened in the end.

A blue jay tried the same thing with our old dog. As she walked along under the tree where the jays had a nest, a jay dived at her several times. She appeared not to notice, but suddenly she reared back, jumped and twisted over her shoulder like she was catching a Frisbee, and you could hear the loud snap of her teeth as she missed the jay by inches (dogs have amazingly fast reactions). The jay, being no dope, left her alone after that.

A robber fly flew into my woodshop just this past Wednesday. Landed on a work table right next to me. He had no prey in hand and I, noticing his lack, queried him about such an embarrassing state. His reply was to fly a looping trajectory that took him out the back door. I suppose he has eaten by now and if not, I am oddly concerned. But then, I am hungry right now so my point of view may be subtly out of kilter.

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This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on August 17, 2010 12:25 PM.

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