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Horse Fly

Horse Fly
Photo Information
Copyright: Joe Kellard (joey) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-07-14
Categories: Insects
Camera: Canon Powershot S3 IS
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/500 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): My Photos for my website, Dipterans (except Hover flies) of Europe-1 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-09-02 1:33
Viewed: 7758
Points: 32
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
One of my least favourite animals!!

This horsefly, a Tabanus Bromius (thankyou to Ivan for the I.D.), was photographed at Howletts Zoo in Kent. It must have been preying on the huge variety of animals.

Insects in the order Diptera, family Tabanidae, are commonly called Horse flies. Often considered pests for the bites that many inflict, they are among the world's largest true flies. They are also important pollinators of flowers, especially in South Africa. Tabanids occur worldwide, being absent only at extreme northern and southern latitudes. Flies of this type are among those known sometimes as "gadflies", "zimbs" or "clegs." In Australia, they are known as "March" flies.

There are approximately 3,000 species of horse flies known worldwide, 350 of which are found in North America. At least three subfamilies are recognised:

the genus Zophina is of uncertain placement, though it has been classified among the Pangoniinae.
Two well-known types are the common horse flies, genus Tabanus Linnaeus, 1758 and the deer flies, genus Chrysops Meigen, 1802 also known as banded horse flies because of their coloring. Both these genera give their names to subfamilies. The "Blue Tail Fly" in the eponymous song was probably a tabanid common to the southeastern United States.

Adult horse flies feed on nectar and sometimes pollen. Females require a blood meal for reproduction. Males lack the necessary mouth parts (mandibles) for blood feeding. Most female horse flies feed on mammal blood, but some species are known to feed on birds, amphibians or reptiles. Immature or larval horse flies are fossorial predators of other invertebrates in moist environments.

The females' primary sense for locating prey is sight, and they have large compound eyes that serve this purpose well. The flies usually lay waiting in shady areas for prey to happen by. They are attracted to large, dark objects, and to certain animal odors and carbon dioxide. They are also attracted by motion, their eyes being well adapted to its detection. The eyes of horse flies are generally brightly colored, and this coloration is one of the means entomologists use to identify them to species, though the colors rarely persist after death. Sex in most species can be distinguished based on shape of the eyes relative to the frons. Male horse flies are usually holoptic, meaning that their eyes meet and take up the majority of the head. In females, the eyes are separated by a space called the frons.

The bite from a larger specimen can be painful, especially considering the light, agile, and airborne nature of the fly. Unlike insects which surreptitiously puncture the skin with needle-like organs, horse flies have mandibles like tiny serrated scimitars, which they use to rip and/or slice flesh apart. This causes the blood to seep out as the horsefly licks it up. They may even carve a chunk completely out of the victim, to be digested at its leisure.

The horsefly's modus operandi is less secretive than that of its mosquito counterparts, although it still aims to escape before pain signals reach their mark's sphere of awareness. Moreover, the pain of a horsefly bite may mean that the victim is more concerned with assessing and repairing the wound, than finding and swatting the interloper.

Horse flies are most active in hot weather, mostly in summer and autumn during the daylight hours. Most species also prefer a wet environment, which makes it easier for them to breed. The female lays eggs on vegetation overhanging moist soil. The larvae hatch and drop onto the soil, where they feed on smaller organisms until pupation.

Eggs are generally laid on stones close to water or on plant stems or leaves. On hatching, the larvae fall into water or moist earth, feeding voraciously on invertebrates, such as snails and earthworms, and small vertebrates.

Thankyou for your comments

cataclysta, LordPotty, Argus, pierrefonds, angybone, eqshannon, Silke, pankajbajpai, jmirah, gannu has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Argus: I.D.joey 1 09-02 02:50
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Joe,
A beautiful capture of this horsefly. Yes it is very painful when got bitten by a horsefly. Nicely captured with excellent details and POV. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hi Joe
I like your nicely composed sharp photo of Tabanus.

I think that you could cop it a little bit more to make the insect more prominent.

Also great very informative note

Best wishes

Hi Joe, splendid fly with wonderful details and great sharpness, good colors, very well done, ciao Silvio

Nice macro Joe,
Great colour and detail.
Good composition and very comprehensive notes.
Well done.

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-09-02 2:14]

Hello Joe,
Wow, you've really got the focus spot-on on that big eye here! He's not a favourite of mine but he'd love me! Great sharpness and a fine simple composition. Well done!
Many thanks, Ulla

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-09-02 2:48]
  • [+]

Hello Joe,
This is a fine capture of a Horse Fly of high technical standard, good lighting and composition.
I just wonder, though. The eye seems to suggest that this is Tabanus bromius, the body of which is about 15mm long. T. sudeticus has a duller eye, yellower legs and at almost 25mm long much larger: it really is a giant of a fly.
So I would suggest that this is Tabanus bromius.
TFS and enjoy your weekend,

Excelente enfoque con gran profundidad. Destaco la suavidad de los colores y los nítidos de talles de todas las partes de su cuerpo. Una toma de precisión y gran elegancia.
Saludos Joe.

Hi Joe,

A nice image of the horse fly, the photo has a good composition, sharpness and nice colors. Thanks for sharing.


Awesome eyes!!! Great details throughout but those are eyes are too cool! Great shot.

Great picture of the horsefly. They can be bothersome. Showing nice contrast and sharp detail. Very good Joey.


  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2007-09-02 8:11]

Hi Joe,
Just marking the post and will be back with a proper critique later. Sorry about this.

  • Great 
  • Silke Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 729 W: 98 N: 1707] (5458)
  • [2007-09-02 8:39]

I will join my vote to yours. these little critters have a very nasty bite!
Superb capture, though

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2007-09-02 10:35]

Hi Joe

I totally agree with you horrible things! However, you have captured it beautifull here. The eye is superb as is the isolation from the BG.


hello joe,
lovely capture of this horsefly, nice pov, well composed shot, the image is sharp with good details, nice natural colours, the eys of the insect look great,
well done,
tfs & regards

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2007-09-03 3:17]

Joey, Fantastic shot. I just like the eyes. It looks like wearing some lovely eye cap. The sharp image is actually standing out on the BG. Ganesh

  • Great 
  • jmirah Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 509 W: 5 N: 1141] (4687)
  • [2007-09-03 16:44]

Hi Joe,
Great detail and exposure on this close-up. I thought I had a great shot of a Blue-Bottle Fly until I saw this. Outstanding focus and color. Very well captured.


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