Here’s a male golden-backed snipe fly (Chrysopilus thoracicus). The species is strangely understudied. For example, the adults don’t seem to feed, or at least do so very rarely or in complete privacy. I’ve read about them eating aphids, but that’s secondhand at best. The family (Rhagionidae) is full of predaceous members, so it’s certainly possible, but it’s still odd that we don’t really know for sure, and there should be at least a single photograph of them eating something. I wish somebody would PCR their gut contents to settle the issue. Not much is known about the larvae (image), either, other than that they can mature in rotting logs (Johnson 1912).
I’ve photographed this insect twice before. One was floating on top of water, the other was sporting a severely dented eye. They are easy to photograph because they refuse to budge even when the lens gets within centimeters.
Snipe flies (Rhagionidae) are so named because their unfurled probosces resemble snipes (long-beaked birds in the Scolopacidae). Not everyone buys that naming explanation, though. Some insist it’s because of their agile, predaceous habit (i.e., they are good at sniping).
This golden-backed snipe fly (Chrysopilus thoracicus) landed in one of my bird baths and drifted around for a few minutes on the surface tension. I’m not positive, but I think I’ve seen them do this in past years, too. I wonder whether they are looking for mosquito larvae, or perhaps adults. These flies have predaceous mouthparts, so they clearly hunt something. Sure wish somebody would PCR the gut contents of these things and let me know. Anyone ever seen them take something down?
Here’s another one, albeit one with a damaged eye:
Brown anole displaying its dewlap. Not sure whether this was a male or female, though I’m sure anyone familiar with brown anoles would know instantly. Males supposedly have bigger dewlaps and display them longer … but I only saw this one individual. My guess is that it’s a he. For a great overview of dewlaps, please see Anole Annals. Photograph from Key Largo, Florida, March 2014.
Also, sure wish more science fiction movies would equip aliens with these. Missed opportunity for surprise and hilarity.