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Old 09-09-2012, 07:38 PM   #1
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Default large, sap eating flies, and a mystery bug

These look like deer or horse flies to me, but I thought those only sucked blood. These guys appear at dusk all over the sap leak on my chestnut oak. Unfortunately I never see them when the light is particularly good - they seem to prefer to feed when the tree is in deep shade.

large, sap eating flies, and a mystery bug-large-fly-tree-id-1.jpg
large, sap eating flies, and a mystery bug-large-fly-tree-id-1-2.jpg
large, sap eating flies, and a mystery bug-large-fly-tree-id-1-3.jpg

And this fellow scurried so fast I didn't get a great shot. I thought he was probably a velvet ant, but couldn't find a good match on bugguide so I thought I would see what suunto thinks.
large, sap eating flies, and a mystery bug-red-antlike-bug-id-2.jpg
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Old 09-10-2012, 08:13 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by turttle View Post
These look like deer or horse flies to me, but I thought those only sucked blood. These guys appear at dusk all over the sap leak on my chestnut oak. Unfortunately I never see them when the light is particularly good - they seem to prefer to feed when the tree is in deep shade.

Attachment 32158
Attachment 32159
Attachment 32160

And this fellow scurried so fast I didn't get a great shot. I thought he was probably a velvet ant, but couldn't find a good match on bugguide so I thought I would see what suunto thinks.
Attachment 32161
The big fly is indeed a horse fly (Diptera: Tabanidae); and they will feed on sap, especially the males. The red critter is a velvet ant (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae); they pack a nasty wallop!
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Old 09-14-2012, 08:27 PM   #3
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So, suunto, we are not near any horses, and there are not a lot of deer around. What else do these guys eat? There are cattle about a mile down the road. I haven't been bitten by any of them, thank god!

Do velvet ants have colonies or are they solitary? This is the only one I have ever seen here, and if they pack a wollop, I need to know how careful to be in that part of my yard.
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Old 09-15-2012, 05:46 AM   #4
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So, suunto, we are not near any horses, and there are not a lot of deer around. What else do these guys eat? There are cattle about a mile down the road. I haven't been bitten by any of them, thank god!

Do velvet ants have colonies or are they solitary? This is the only one I have ever seen here, and if they pack a wollop, I need to know how careful to be in that part of my yard.
Horse flies such as the one(s) in your image will feed on just about any large mammal. I have even seen them attracted to dark, slow-moving motor vehicles...
And velvet ants are solitary, not colonial, if that helps!
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Old 09-15-2012, 09:33 AM   #5
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Hmmm...I have seen red-spotted purples tasting my son's Prius, and have had wild turkeys attacking their own reflections in a rental car door, but have never heard of a horse fly trying to drink from a motor vehicle. Must be very disappointed!

And I am very glad to hear velvet ants are solitary. I would much rather risk a single sting/bite than risk stepping into a colony of some stinging creatures. Fire ants are moving up my street and that is enough of a concern for me on that score.
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