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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

23 May, 2016

Machimus artricapillus: the kite-tailed robber fly

Whilst not a particularly large insect the kite-tailed robber fly (Machimus artricapillus) is certainly a fearsome creature as far as other insects are concerned. It is quite capable of taking flies as big as some species of hoverfly which are actually larger than itself.  They do so by lying in wait on plant leaves or tree branches and pounce when a suitable prey item come by. They have a lot of hairs which protects them against struggling prey.
The larvae are found in leaf litter and are omnivorous eating both rotting vegetation and taking live prey. The adults can be seen from May to August but are most numerous later in the summer when they often form large mating swarms. A locally common species in Dorset you can see them in places where the soil is sandy so heathland woodland is a good spot.
They can give a nasty bite if handled but do not bite humans unless provoked.
Machimus artricapillus: the kite-tailed robber fly