Female Western Horsefly (Tabanus punctifer)

Western Horsefly (Tabanus punctifer)

Female Western Horsefly (Tabanus punctifer)
A female Western Horsefly (Tabanus punctifer) in Boulder, Colorado, USA. July 11, 2012.

I have a confession to make: I was not always a fan of the insect world.

I never had an extreme fear or disgust of insects, spiders, and other such critters, although there were some groups I had problems with (scorpions, for example, and they still bother me despite my attempts to desensitize myself by looking at them several times a week for six months). But I didn’t go through a bug phase as a kid, and was always more squeamish than average about handling insects.

Even now, well, I’m still not the kind of hardcore bug nerd who would happily let a botfly lay eggs in me (NO THANKS) or a horsefly bite me just to get an action photo.

So I had pretty mixed feelings when I spotted the largest horsefly I have ever seen in my life yesterday. Initially, as she flew up in front of me, I thought she might be a bumblebee. But the flight pattern was wrong. A beetle? Once she landed on a window frame, I saw that no, this was a fly. A huge fly. Easily over an inch long. I pulled out my phone (the best camera is the one you have with you!) and carefully tried to get a decent photo as she shifted around, making me rather nervous as I eyed her gigantic mouthparts.

But like many people, my wariness of certain animals largely vanishes with a camera in hand.

And the thing is, tabanids are beautiful flies. I especially love their striped eyes.

The ability to appreciate that beauty, even as I remain firmly Not A Fan (I was bitten by much smaller horseflies as a kid, and they made an impression), is one of the things I love about this hobby. Even if I’ll never love horseflies, I can still find something enjoyable about looking at them, and that’s more than I had before when they were solely obnoxious animals to be avoided.

(I really didn’t need to know about the biting aquatic larvae that can be found in hot springs, though.)

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2 thoughts on “Western Horsefly (Tabanus punctifer)”

  1. I love everything about this fly! Her ridiculous mouthparts! Her stripey eyes! Her fuzzy body!

    And if she came at me, I would scream and run away.

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