While exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I came across a fresh pile of bear scat (aka, poo)…butterflies and other insects love this stuff…it’sjust full of minerals and other useful whatnot. I took a break (upwind of course) to study all the insects enjoying the benefits of said poo, when I noticed a wild-looking insect fly in. It quickly folded its wings to the point where I could no longer see them…then started to race around, as if it was looking for something, but poo was not on the menu for this insect. This amazingly small predator (about the size of a human fingernail) was after tiny flies. In addition to amazing speed and reflexes, it seemed to use its abdomen to attract flies even closer. It raised it up into the air and made a large section of it turn bright yellow or gold. I’m guessing the yellow color would attract the flies even closer, but it could also make the bottom portion of its abdomen turn yellow and black (which I felt was a warning to others of its own kind to keep their distance). In fact, several others of its own kind did fly in to hunt and there were numerous displays of color and fights, but the fights were quickly over and the hunters went back to work with no harm to each other. I took this image of one working his way back to the poo pile after it rolled off fighting…where I noticed an additional yellow patch on each side…how could a small fly resist? All of the color displays are done with shiny yellow hairs (according to the research I’ve studied), however, it has the appearance of glowing from time to time. As for the butterflies, they were so far off the surface of the poo, with their long legs, neither species cared about the other.
Subject: Gold & Brown Rove Beetle, Ontholestes Cingulatus
Location: TN, USA
300mm macro lens and 500D close-up lens attached