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Posts Tagged ‘mating Red-footed Cannibalflies’

Do you chase wildlife or do you wait for it to come to you? I tend to be in the former group and will sometimes walk for hours and hours in search of suitable subjects.

On Wednesday, however, the action came to me. I was returning from a walk along a stream hunting for dragonflies and was shocked as I approached my car to see a pair of Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes) mating on my car. I watched in fascination as they moved from one part of the car’s exterior to another, locked in the peculiar tail-to-tail position that robber flies use for mating. (Even before this incident, I knew that I needed to wash my car, as you can readily see in the second photo.)

I must confess that I have long had a fascination with this insect species—there is something really cool and slightly horrifying about the macabre moniker ‘Red-footed Cannibalfly.’ They are fierce predators who reported have been able to take down a hummingbird. They inject their victims with a toxin that paralyzes them and liquifies their insides so that the cannibalfly can more easily ingest their innards. If you are not totally creeped out by now, you might agree that cannibalflies are cool insects.

I have written over 3500 blog postings over the past eight years and my most-viewed regular posting is one that I published in August 2013 with the simple title of “Red-footed Cannibalfly,” with 2595 views. Yes, a lot of people seem to be interested in this insect and somehow find their way to that blog posting each year. It is a good posting, I think, but neither the prose nor the photos are great, but sometimes that doesn’t matter for popularity in this digital world. (You can judge for yourself by clicking on the title of the posting that I linked to the original posting.)

Some of you may have noted that I used the term “regular posting” in describing my posting on the red-footed cannibalfly. In November 2014 I was fortunate to be at a local nature park during the rescue of an injured bald eagle by the animal control officers of the local police department and documented it in a blog posting entitled “Rescue of an injured Bald Eagle.”

Several news outlets picked up the story including the Washington Post , some local radio and television stations, including WTOP, and the Fairfax County Police Department News. A number of them included a link to my blog posting, which had over 3000 views in a couple of days, but has had relatively few views since that time. I had authorized the Police Department to use my posting and photos and as a result of that exposure I was contacted by a number of media organizations asking permission to use my photos, which I agreed to, requesting that they give attribution and, if possible, a link to my blog.

A small number of media organizations, including the Washington Post, used my photos without asking for permission, though the Washington Post did at least give attribution. When I contacted the reporter, he said that he had “assumed” it was ok, because he had obtained the photos through the Police Department site. I have not had to deal with the media since, but know now to be a bit careful in doing so.

Red-footed Cannibalfly

Red-footed Cannibalfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Imagine an insect so powerful that it is reportedly able to take down a hummingbird. Then give it the macabre monniker of Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes). If I were an insect, I would be really worried. Actually I don’t think that I would want to allow one to bite me, because a cannibalfly stabs its prey with its proboscis and injects saliva that help to liquify the prey’s insides. Then the cannibalfly sucks out the liquid through its proboscis.

I don’t know why exactly, but the last week or so I have seen a lot of Red-footed Cannibalflies during my trips to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Here are a few of my recent shots. The first one reminded one of my Facebook viewers of The Lorax, a Dr. Seuss character with a big mustache. Maybe this insect needs to overhaul its public image so that it is viewed as being less threatening. One possible first step might be to change its name to the Bee Panther, a nickname that is sometimes used for this species.

On a side note, each of the last four years, including this year, a 2013 posting entitled simply Red-footed Cannibalfly has been my most viewed posting. If I calculated correctly, the posting has been viewed almost 2400 times, including 293 times in 2018.

Why is that posting so popular? Apparently a lot of people do Google searches for “red-footed cannibalfly” and stumble onto my blog posting. I’m proud of a number of my postings and the images that I have captured, but I must confess that I don’t consider that 2013 posting as one of my best.

It’s a little scary to think that I may be inextricably linked in some people’s minds with Red-footed Cannibalflies. Yikes!

Red-footed Cannibalfly

Red-footed Cannibalfly

Red-footed Cannibalfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Although it looks a bit like a tug of war, I think that these two Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes) actually were mating when I spotted them on Friday at Huntley Meadows Park. (Don’t ask me any anatomical questions–I am not sure how it works for them.)

This photo was taken from a pretty good distance away with my 150-600mm lens and is a little soft, but I thought I’d post it today as an accompaniment to my earlier macro shot of what I think is a female Red-footed Cannibalfly.

mating Red-footed Cannibalflies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was walking through my local marsh yesterday, I caught sight of a giant flying insect. Upon closer examination, it proved to be a pair of mating Red-footed Cannibalflies  (Promachus rufipes).

They eventually settled on a leaf, just above eye level. It was a heavily vegetated area and it was tough getting a clear line of sight and a good angle of view (and standing on my tiptoes probably is not an optimal shooting position). This first shot was the only one I got where both of these giant insects were in focus.

At a certain point of time, one of them, which I suspect was the female, tried to escape and I got the second shot, capturing an unusual moment in time. In the original version, the background was mostly light colored, but there were some ugly smudges of greenish gray.  I tried to remove them hastily in post processing to highlight better the subjects, but I noted that I didn’t do a very good job when, after the fact, I looked at the posting on a computer screen, vice my laptop, on which it was composed..

The second shot seems to be begging for a clever caption. Does anyone have a suggestion?

 

Mating Red-footed Cannibalflies

Matting Red-footed Cannibalflies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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