Flying assassin discovered dissolving victims in sleepy Northern Cape
A fearsome new mass killer has been discovered in the Northern Cape.
The new species of assassin fly ambushes its prey in mid-air‚ stabs it and injects venom that dissolves the unfortunate beetle‚ moth‚ butterfly or wasp. Then it sucks out their insides.
Female assassin fly of the species Trichoura tankwa perched on a low‚ dry branch. Picture: Torsten Dikow
The species‚ dubbed Trichoura pardeos‚ lives in the Tierberg Nature Reserve‚ a small conservation area on the north banks of the Gariep River‚ 4km outside Keimoes.
The rocky hill habitat at Tierberg Nature Reserve‚ Keimoes‚ Northern Cape‚ with Aloe dichotoma. Picture: Torsten Dikow
Assassin flies have been found only in South Africa and the new discovery — by Jason Londt‚ of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg‚ and Torsten Dikow‚ of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History‚ in the US — brings the number of species in the genus to seven.
The insects‚ also called robber flies‚ are named for their extremely predatory behaviour.
The habitat of the new species is a large rocky hill where the sparse vegetation is dominated by drought-resistant plants‚ such as aloes.
The fly is predominantly red-brown‚ with silvery‚ white and yellowish markings.
– TMG Digital/The Times