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Female Ommatius Robber Fly | by Thomas Shahan
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Female Ommatius Robber Fly

Make sure to click here to view the larger image as Flickr's resizing creates moiré artifacts and dulls the brilliance of the compound eyes!


This beautiful little Ommatius female caught my eye one miserably hot day last August while I was fruitlessly chasing Holcocephala robbers around a swampy area. She seemed to be relatively unfazed by my presence and was perched atop a secure stick in the shade, so I decided to try for a few shots. After carefully clearing a little spot to sit near her and upon noticing how cooperative she was, I proceeded to spend the next hour watching her hunt. Due to my soft spot for the Holcocephala robbers of this area, I’d largely overlooked these pretty little (~11mm) asilids that occupy the same areas up until this encounter. She was an absolute joy to watch and photograph – leaping from her perch constantly only to reappear at the exact same perch seconds later – each time with a new pierced captive. She was so fast I could never see where she was going, but her lightning quick hunts always seemed to be successful. These Ommatius species must have fantastic vision.


As of writing this, I’m not quite sure which species she is – I’ve read that the only definitive way to identify robbers within this genus is to analyze the genitalia of male specimens. Visually, they all look quite similar to me. Here’s a great page from Herschel Raney with a bit of an introduction to Ommatius robbers: Another thing worth pointing out – the compound eyes were a beautiful deep metallic green to my eyes in the sunlight, but somehow my diffused flash picked up the reddish hue you see in the eyes above and below. Maybe I’ll have to try a combination of natural light and a fill-flash should I attempt to photograph this species again next summer. The image above is a crop from a focus stack of about 6 images taken with the 50mm reversed on a set of extension tubes.


Sorry about the infrequent uploads – I’ve been quite busy lately and after all it is winter here. Currently it’s about 10° F and windy in Oklahoma. If you’re interested in more things Thomas, head on over to my artwork account here:


...or if you’re really bored, I use this account for just documenting vintage illustrations:


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Taken on February 1, 2011