Stalk-Eyed Flies (and best wishes for 2012)

Dear All – many greetings from the hot, remote desert in Northern Kenya…

Lots to catch up on here but firstly I would like to thank everyone for reading this blog and sending in your kind comments.

A few days ago I visited the Kerio Valley in northwestern Kenya. It was a hot, sunny day so I decided to stop and rest in the shade of some giant fig trees by a stream…

A cool stream flows through the Kerio Valley

As I was sitting by the stream I noticed some of the rocks were covered with what appeared to be insects…

Who are these mysterious bugs gathered on the rocks?
Hmmm... What are all those little red knobs?
Hmmm… What are all those little red knobs?

I took a closer look and was blown away by what I found – one of the most bizarre and wonderful insects in the world – the Stalk-Eyed Fly!

Yes, those are the flies EYES on the ends of stalks. This bizarre and wonderful arrangement is thought to be the result of sexual selection. Basically female flies chose males based on the width of their eyes. The wider the eyes, the sexier the fly seems. As a result, this amazing structure has come to be.

I watched the Stalk-Eyed Flies gathering on the rocks and leaves by the stream. There was a lot of jostling and showing off by the males…

"My eyes are bigger than yours..."
“My eyes are bigger than yours…”

One of the Stalk-Eyed Flies eyed me as I was photographing it and rubbed it’s front legs together… (you can guess what happened next!)

Hmmm… you look tasty!

It landed on my knee and started licking the sweat off me! You can see it’s amazing mouthparts extended in the photograph below:

Oooh – that tickles!

It was joined a few minutes later by a larger fly (that did more than tickle) so I had to shoo them away…

A larger fly on my knee…

The fly returned to its perch on a leaf and posed obligingly for more photos…

Bizarre and beautiful Stalk-Eyed Fly!

Best wishes to all for the New Year and more from the wonderful world of bugs in 2012!

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