Grey Beard

Although, as DaveH points out, his second name translates as “blackbeard,” this chap had a bushy white beard. These large flies fascinate me. They are 18-20mm long and have the most amazing thorax. It packs all the equipment required to capture prey on the wing. This is why they are called assassin flies, or robber flies. Clearly visible is one of his yellow haltares, which aid balance in flight.

The extra shot is of a tiny praying mantis nymph on its big day. I’ve been checking on this wee fella for a week or so, as he waits on his chosen leaf. In all that time he didn’t change, staying the same size and appearance. But he must have caught a meal yesterday while I was away because this morning he shed his baby skin with the black stripe.

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