Predator in the Stillshot

Holcocephala Robber Fly

Ironically, the camera is not usually good for capturing an insect’s uncanny ability to appear lifeless in a perfectly still repose. It is the moment before movement, and it ferments in the expectation that this creature before us is, in fact, alive. And then ā€” zap. It animates. We might have an idea which quick movement we made set it off, but what about all the other ones that did not garner so much as an antenna twitch? Insects often seem in perfect control of their tiny bodies; their behaviors seem driven by inarguable biological imperatives. They mean everything they do, even if it often is in the the most primitive context, these tiny aliens, and then they do something insane like land on a giant’s hand or knee.

This photograph features a tiny robber fly (Family Asilidae). Robbers are known as fierce predators who expertly kill their prey by injecting paralyzing saliva with their short, hard proboscis. They can be skittish around giants to say nothing of giants with pushy cameras, but this member of the Genus Holcocephala (Greek for “furrow” “head”) stayed still long enough for me to get a few shots. The wide set eyes distinguish this creature in the U.S. narrowing it down to the genus level and its three species (of which I will not wager a mostly uneducated guess as to our friend’s identity).

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