Female assassin fly of the species Trichoura tankwa perching on a low, dry branch. Picture: TORSTEN DIKOW
Female assassin fly of the species Trichoura tankwa perching on a low, dry branch. Picture: TORSTEN DIKOW

A fearsome new mass killer has been discovered in the Northern Cape.

It is a species of assassin fly that ambushes its prey in mid-air‚ stabs it and injects venom that dissolves the unfortunate beetle‚ moth‚ butterfly or wasp.

Then it sucks out their insides.

The species‚ dubbed Trichoura pardeos‚ lives in the Tierberg Nature Reserve‚ a small conservation area on the north banks of the Gariep River‚ 4km outside Keimoes.

Assassin flies have been found only in SA.

The one newly discovered by Jason Londt of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg and Torsten Dikow of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in the US brings the number of known species in the genus to seven.

The insects‚ also called robber flies‚ are named for their extremely predatory behaviour.

The habitat of the new species is a large rocky hill where the sparse vegetation is dominated by drought-resistant plants‚ such as aloes.

The fly is mainly red-brown‚ with silvery‚ white and yellowish markings.

TMG Digital/The Times

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