Golden Dung Fly – Scathophaga stercoraria
Dung Flies – Family Scathophagidae. Live predatory flies photographed in the wild. The bearded chin is called a mystax, a feature shared with robber flies. It protects the fly’s face while feeding on struggling prey.
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.
Large (10mm) male munches down on a root-maggot fly about half his size.
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.
Female specimen (above) dines on house fly; female coloring is more subdued
I think you can probably tell I love this fly. To find such cooperative insects of both sexes in close proximity is a bug photographer’s dream come true. I wish you could see the full-sized photos – they are stunning if I do say so myself.