Baby Red-Footed Cannibalflies!

Robber Fly

Location:  Northern Kentucky, near Cincinnati, OH
August 17, 2010 7:56 pm
My garden has been hosting a red-footed cannibalfly this year that I’ve named ’Angel’ because she was ’bug of the month’ for August which pretty much makes her a ’Centerfold’ in bug land. 🙂
I scan my garden for her and am usually rewarded with at least a glimpse of her every day.
Last Sunday, I spied a familiar profile, in miniature, on one of my wild phlox. A baby Angel!
Like its mother, it didn’t seem to mind my snapping camera. It was only about 1/2” long. I saw two others before the day was through.
The next day, I caught sight of one of them again and I was amazed at how much it had grown in a single day. It was feeding on what I believe to be a fly, but could be a small bee. It deftly caught prey suitable to its own diminutive size.
Amazing little predators.
(p.s. Please feel free to edit my content as you see fit.)

Robber Fly eats Fly

Hi Again Ragdoll,
There is absolutely nothing to edit from your entertaining and delightful letter, but we would like to take the opportunity to make some corrections.  Your most recent Robber Fly is not a Red Footed Cannibalfly and we doubt we have the necessary skills to identify which of the 883 North American species indicated by BugGuide that it might be.  You also have a significant conceptual error in your letter that we would like to explain.  Insects undergo metamorphosis and they do not “grow” the way creatures without an exoskeleton grow.  The exoskeleton of an insect is rigid, and before an insect can increase in size, it must molt or shed its hard outer skin.  Insect nymphs and larvae grow after molting, but adults do not since they have reached the end of their metamorphosis.  A “baby Angel” would not have wings.  Instead it would be a wormlike larva.  Many fly larvae are known as maggots.  Your “baby Angel” is actually an adult of a distinct species.  The prey in your two food chain images appears to be a fly as well.

Robber Fly eats Fly

WOW! Thanks for the spanking, Bugman! It’s totally humbling to be wrong so many times in a single letter. 😉
I honestly appreciate all the corrections. The thing that’s weird is that the ‘tiny’ robber fly looks like it has the red legs, like Angel. All of a sudden, three of them appeared on the same day. The next day, I saw another, but it was a little larger and looked a little different. That’s the one with the fly.
The oddest thing of all, though, is that I have never seen a robber fly in my life till this year. I know that doesn’t mean they weren’t there, but I’ve always been pretty observant about the ‘wildlife’ in my gardens. Maybe it’s like when you learn a new word. You seem to hear it everywhere for awhile.
I find all your info fascinating and I appreciate the education. I’ve always loved to photograph insects, but I’ve only recently started to try to really learn about them. It’s  great that you put so much time into educating the clueless, like me.
Thanks again and warm regards,

Dear Rags,
No spanking was intended.  Trust us when we humbly acknowledge that we are often wrong and we depend heavily on our readership to provide needed corrections to our own identifications

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