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Those Pesky Pests!

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Those Pesky Pests!

The graceful and relaxed waterbuck looked like he was enjoying a few minutes of calm when all of a sudden he shook his head, rubbed it desperately and finally bolted away as if a big cat was chasing him.  What was all the commotion? A guess was that a horsefly was literally in the face of the waterbuck, and perhaps got a good hold on him, as his reaction was sudden as he jumped sideways to get away, probably mumbling some curse words once the dust settled.

A horsefly...what the heck is a horsefly anyway? It truly is a fly, one of the largest of the species. At 30 to 60 mm in length, the flies of this type are also known as gadlfies, clegs, or zimbs. Known by various names in different countries, there are approximately 3,000 species of horseflies around the world. Thats 3,000 too many for me as it hurts like heck when one decides to taste your arm. The males are the true pollinators, feeding on pollen and nectar, while the female delights in sucking blood from various mammals, at times including humans.  The aggresive female occasionaly feeds on birds, reptiles and amphibians as well, all while the male flitters from plant to plant keeping the peace with nature.

Horseflies are large hairy flies, not a very attractive creature based on that description. Its a good thing they don't often fly around at night or there would be amazing stories of the tiny black vampires that sneak up in the night and suck your blood. The female has mouth parts that produce quite a painful bite. When seen under a microscope, these parts look very much like jagged saw blades. The bite hurts so much because they actually cut a hole in the skin and suck up the blood that comes out. Maybe they really are vampires, except they carry their own saw to make it easier! Watching that poor waterbuck go from calmness to panic in just a few seconds sure indicates one of those arrogant female horseflies decided to dine on him. His sudden jump of desperation might have been a result of those blade like mouthparts piercing painfully. Very noisy in flight, they still manage to get to their target. And all this going on while the male is peacefully moving from flower to flower, humming a tune as he watches the poor waterbuck jump around aimlessly.   After all, if his wife is bothering some other critter, she wont be bothering him!