Bird Food: Bot Flies

March 6, 2017

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Bill Maynard, a botanist and former high school biology teacher, has worked for various government agencies from Alaska to South Florida and for The American Birding Association. He discovered the 87,000 acre Chico Basin Ranch to be the perfect natural laboratory to study and photograph birds, dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects. Chico Basin Ranch Natural History Resources : BIRDING CHECKLIST // BIRDING MAP // DRAGONFLY & DAMSELFLY CHECKLIST //

Other than entomologists, almost nobody likes flies.  But some fly species are extremely specialized and some are colorful.  The largest bird family in the world is called Tyrant Flycatchers although the members of the family eat many more species of insects than just flies. One of a group of flies of interest is called bot flies and a bumblebee mimic.  This deer bot fly is an adult and it has no visible/usable mouth because it only lives a short time and only to breed.  The adult female needs to find a host, a deer or elk, and she lays her eggs in the deer’s nostrils where they hatch. The larvae then move through the throat to the base of the tongue where they mature.  When the time is right the larvae are coughed to the ground where they mature in the soil and eventually hatch into an adult like this one and the cycle starts anew. Deer bot fly adults are thought to be the fastest flying insect, capable of speeds up to 40 mph. This one did not fly and was probably at the end of its life.