In early April there is a sunny spot in our back yard early in the morning. Usually I would find a robber fly perched on a leaf waiting for its first victim. The warmth of the sun would bring out some smaller flies which seemed to be its favorite target. What’s interesting is that the robber fly seemed to be fearless. I could get right up to it with my camera and he just seemed to dare me to take away his prey. It does seem to be a little strange to see a fly eating a fly.
In early fall I could often find another robber fly [Promachus hinei]. One day I saw one had caught a paper wasp. Again, I could take my time getting its portrait. It was quite impressive how the fly would control the wasp with its legs
Dragonflies are constantly looking for their next prey. This Common Green Darner [Anax junius] has another dragonfly for its meal. The victim looks to be a Blue Dasher. According to Greg Lansley, dragonflies will often eat other dragonflies. In fact, they will even eat the young of their own species.
In the fall I watch the wheel bugs and the praying mantis. I have a small grove of goldenrod in the backyard and there were several wheel bugs all summer long growing up. When the goldenrod bloomed, I could see why they were there. The flowers were full of honey bees and wasps. Every day four or five wheel bugs were getting their fill. Often two or three would be feasting at a time, to the point expected to see a pile of carcasses on the ground
A praying mantis shared in the bounty of the bees. One day in early November I found something unexpected. One of the wheel bugs had attacked the mantis.
Upon closer inspection of the mantis, it was clear that it was not in good shape. Some parasites had been growing in its body and had recently escaped the abdomen. I did a little search of mantis parasites. It was quite disturbing what I found. It was clear to me that being an insect is a dangerous existence and I was glad I could leave the carnage behind and go into the house for a nice cup of coffee.