The horse fly is a painful pest that targets grazing animals. The harmless male only eats plant juices, but when the female is ready to lay her eggs, she needs extra food. She satisfies herself with blood. Her bite is so painful that the sound of her beating wings can frighten a herd of animals into a stampede.
Cannibal Kids: Horse fly larvae grow up in muddy areas, eating insects for a few years while they mature. When there are a lot of larvae in a small area, they sometimes eat each other.
Surround-Vision: A horse fly's huge, brightly colored eyes provide a field of vision that covers nearly 360 degrees. This way, the fly can see if it's about to get swatted from behind.
The female horse fly's sword-like mouthparts can slice deep into tough hide. After making the cut, the insect drips some anti-clotting saliva that keeps blood flowing from the wound, which she soaks up with a sponge-like tongue. After a filling meal of tasty blood, the female horse fly find a nice muddy spot to lay her eggs.
Safe Haven: When the female horse fly gets thirsty for blood and finds a horse, it lands near the animal's neck where it can't be swatted away by a swishing tail.
Stay on Target: A pair of organs on the horse fly's body can sense if the insect veers off-course when it's homing in on a victim. If these sensors go off, the fly alters its flight path.
- Flying overhead, the horse fly's eyes are attracted by the shape and movement of a grazing cow.
- Landing without the cow taking notice, the fly easily slices through the animal's skin and begins soaking up the flowing blood.
- The painful bite enrages the cow, which begins to run frantically to try and jar the fly off its body, but the horse fly's sticky legs help it keep a firm grip.