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I saw at least four species of robber flies, judging from their sizes, but was surprised to learn that more than 20 species of robber flies are found on the dunes. One of the largest of the robber flies is endemic to the dunes, found nowhere else.

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reduction in its competitors. Mites are ferried from meal to meal across distances that they cannot walk.

Shortly thereafter I saw an insect motionless on the sand. It was a fly, dead on its back, but it was not alone. I watched it for a while, again through the macro, and counted a minimum of 10 mites on it. The little carcass was seething with mites. They Bottega Veneta Ebano Intrecciato Nappa Tote

I was taken by the abundance of mites on the fly, which appeared to be recently deceased. But mites are tiny and cannot fly. So how did so many mites converge on this juicy morsel so quickly? I thought to myself, lying in the sand, "Are mites really that abundant out here on the sand?" I wondered if I, too, was now seething with mites.

In addition to feeding on the fly, they were also using it as a lure. Flies are attuned to the smell of dead animals and usually arrive in the first hour after death to lay eggs on the carcass. Mites are known to feast on both the eggs and smaller fly larvae, called maggots.

When carrion beetles fly from one carcass to another, they carry a load of mites with them. Upon arrival, the mites disembark to eat fly eggs and maggots. Thus, for the minor cost of carrying one or two dozen mites, the carrion beetle is immediately rewarded by a Bottega Veneta Square Intrecciato Leather Wallet

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densities on the dunes and trudge across the sand to fallen insects, or carrion beetles fly them in.

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were, no doubt, feeding on the recently deceased, frantically looking for the best site to feed from; a dead insect on the sand dunes is an ephemeral bounty of resources in an otherwise barren desert.

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Mites may have flown to the dead fly, but not under their own power; mites have a mutualistic relationship with carrion beetles, which fly great distances following plumes of fragrance emanating from the dead. Carrion beetles compete with maggots for carrion, and mites give them a competitive advantage.

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´╗┐Mites feast on fallen fly at sand dunes

From a distance, the dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park look barren. Some dark areas can be seen, but the dark sands are rich in magnetite, an oxide of iron, exposed when the wind churns and sifts the sands.

Several species of carrion beetles occur at Great Sand Dunes, and although carrion beetles are best known for attending vertebrate carcasses, they do not pass up insects. So, either mites live at high Balenciaga Black Bag

However, a hike up the dunes reveals some surprises. Dune grasses stabilize some of the ridges, and low and sparse vegetation can be found in Buy Guess Bags Online Uk the deeper, more persistent swales. Brightly striped 10 lined June beetles, fully an inch long, were browsing on the vegetation when I visited in July. More than a dozen species of tiger beetles, one of them found nowhere else, were running across the sand and flying about.

A very small robber fly caught my eye. It was the smallest I have ever seen, perhaps only 1/4 inch long. But it was predominantly white with numerous black patches and white legs with red marking. I lay down on the sand to get a good photo and was surprised to see, with the aid of a 180 mm macro lens, that this diminutive predator was sucking the fluid from a mite. It had not occurred to me that mites would occupy the sand dunes.

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