Horse Fly Stomachs

From Puerto Varas we took a sea kayak trip. 

Kayaking Rio Petroue

Kayaking Rio Petroue

The original plan was to kayak a fiord, but the guide, Miguel, elected to run the lower section of Rio Petrohue instead due to the wind.  During the lunch stop, we were attacked by several horse flies (tabanos in Spanish).  Actually they looked like the horse flies we see, and are bitten by, in the US, but instead of teeth they have a proboscis they stick into you to suck your blood, like a mosquito.  Fortunately it doesn’t hurt as much as a horse fly bite, but having your blood sucked is always disconcerting. 

Miguel our kayak guide

Miguel our kayak guide

Miguel explained that in January the air is thick with these horse flies and you have to cover your entire body to keep from getting sucked dry.  As he said this he swatted one, and proceeded to dissect it as he talked.  He explained that he’d learned to find psychic equilibrium or at least make peace with the tabanos by letting them land, then swatting them dead since they are slow and then dissecting them.

Tabano

Tabano

When he did this an extraordinary thing happened.  He removed a small clear sphere of liquid from the center of the fly and ate it.  He said it tastes like honey!  Dan tried one and found that he had to chew to break the membrane over the liquid, but when it broke there was a burst of honey flavor.  Miguel said he thought it was the fly’s stomach,

A horse fly stomach on Dan's finger

A horse fly stomach on Dan’s finger

but why would the fluid in a blood sucking fly’s stomach taste like honey?

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