March 13, 2010
March 16 – Cyclopodia horsfieldi
Huh? A flightless fly? These highly specialized bat flies (Diptera: Hippoboscoidea) feed exclusively on the blood of bats and live their lives clinging mightily to the fur of their volant hosts. Although considered true flies, these derived creatures have lost their wings entirely and evolved specialized structures for ‘swimming’ through or ‘running’ across the fur of their hosts. They have a bizarre life-history, bat flies do not lay eggs, but rather eggs develop internally within the females nourished by uterine “milk” and a single prepupa (3rd instar larva) is deposited on the roost substrate. When young flies emerge, they crawl on to the nearest bat and live out the rest of their life on their host. Interestingly, bat flies are generally quite host-specific but Cyclopodia horsfieldi is known to occur on three species of “flying fox”, or Old-World fruit bats (Pteropus), found in Southeast Asia. If bats aren’t your cup of tea, then an experience with the World’s largest bats teaming with a bunch of wingless blood-sucking flies is sure to induce nightmares!
Contributed by Kevin Olival.