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Then that horsefly hits the deck.

The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It is a place to note any observations of the natural world. Birds, blooms, bugs and more, all are worthy additions to the bucket. Please let us know what is going on around you in the comments, with location as close as you care to share.
May 30, 2013

There's been so many horseflies buzzing around me the last few weeks. That and deer flies, we get them early down south. The constant attacks are aggravating - you swat aimlessly, twitch like a cow, blow like a deer, and know it's hopeless. They never give up so I wasn't sad when I spotted this big monster down and caught between the deck boards.

It's 1 1/4 inches and from what I read, that is about as big as they come. After checking BugGuide and the University of Florida (UF) Entomology sites, my best guess is Tabanus americanus, common throughout eastern US.

This site described it as such:  

Length about 7/8-1 1/8" (22-28 mm); ... eyes bright green, thorax and abdomen reddish brown, wings with markings only along front edge; found throughout eastern U.S. west to Mississippi River and eastern Texas, also southern Canada.

Those are some awesome mandibles, quite capable of ripping into your flesh for a bit of blood. Good news - while females need the blood for their eggs, males are happy to buzz around looking for flowering plants and nectar. We're half safe, but watch out for those ladies most active early in the morning or before sunset.

Quote of the day from that Florida university south of here:

In Florida there are 35 species of Tabanidae that are classed as economically important.
I think UF means to say that these biting flies are detrimental to livestock production.

One more photo to show the segmented lower body. I think it is praying.

Shoo, fly, don't bother me,
Shoo, fly, don't bother me,
Shoo, fly, don't bother me,
For I belong to somebody.

First published in 1869 and commonly sung by soldiers during the Spanish-American War of 1898, when flies and the yellow fever mosquito were a serious enemy. Full historical and distasteful lyrics at this link.

Flip below the fold to see my surprise when I flopped this fly over.

It's eyes are hollowed out! I think I left it on the deck too long before getting the camera. Probably ants. Why did it die? Best guess is it flew into something and whacked itself. They do fly fast!

Good shot of the wings here.

Umm, in case you wonder why it is still able to stand up, when I took these pics, it's legs were moving despite losing its head. Help me .....

I could say more about horsefly life but you can follow the links if you are interested. Briefly, eggs are laid on vegetation over water; larval stages take a few months to a couple years; and adult life span is 2-3 months.

More good news - they are preyed upon by some parasitical wasps, stashed by other nest-building wasps, and eaten by cattle egret and killdeer.

Here's a link to Ohio State info for those farther north. And the usual Wiki.

Jump on in with comments. I didn't say nothing about black flies, sweat flies, dog flies, cluster flies or even bottle flies, so there are plenty of other flies for y'all to swat.

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