|Dung Flies – Family Scathophagidae|
Golden Dung Fly – Scathophaga stercoraria
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Live predatory flies photographed in the wild feasting on their smaller brethren.
Scathophagidae are a small family of flies commonly called dung, although not all species' larvae actually spend their development in dung. Many are plant feeders (leaf miners, stem-borers), aquatic predators or predators on insect larvae resident in rotting vegetable matter, seaweed or dung. The adults are predators of smaller insects, especially flies, but also eat flower pollen and nectar.
Worldwide, there are about 360 described species in 66 genera. The great majority are found in the Palearctic and Nearctic regions and the family is almost wholly confined to the northern hemisphere; only 5 species are known from the southern hemisphere.
Dung flies attack their prey by ambush; they are very fast fliers and quickly overpower their victims by attacking the soft region between the head and the thorax; I've seen Chinese Mantis and robber flies do the same thing (below). The fly will suck out the liquid fractions and leave behind what I can only term "wreckage." There are always plenty of good eats for these highly evolved predators.
Chinese Mantis Tenodera aridifolia sinensis
Robber Fly Laphria thoracica
|The bearded chin is called a mystax, a feature shared with robber flies. It protects the fly's face while feeding on struggling prey.|
Flies of North America – Order Diptera. Flies are prevalent in virtually all habitats, with over 16,000 species in North America. Flies can be distinguished from all other insects in that they only have one pair of normal wings. Most flies have compound eyes and mouthparts adapted for piercing, lapping or sucking fluids.
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