Eyes of a Different Color (Horse Fly, Tabanidae)

horse fly with green eyes and long proboscis on goldenrod flowers

A male horse fly (Tabanidae) feeding on goldenrod.

Horse flies and deer flies (family Tabanidae) have a bit of a well-earned, nasty reputation. They bite, and it’s relatively painful. I’ve photographed this horse fly (or similar-looking) on multiple occasions and have only known them to feed (mostly) obliviously on whichever wildflower they may be. This one of course is a male, and like other flies e.g. the mosquito, the males do not feed on blood and therefore do not bite. It’s not entirely clear in the two images in this post (see below the break for the second plus B&Ws), but you may be see where this fly lacks the triangular, cutting mouthparts. The giveaway that this is a male is the lack of space between the eyes. (Click here to see a female horse fly with the mouthparts and eye-spacing for a good contrast.)

horse fly with green eyes and long proboscis on goldenrod flowers

A male horse fly (Tabanidae) feeding on goldenrod. (Black and white)

Irregular spots on green eyes of horse fly on yellow goldenrod flowers

Closer view of male horse fly on goldenrod.

Irregular spots on green eyes of horse fly on yellow goldenrod flowers

Closer view of male horse fly on goldenrod.

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