Big Bat Bloodsucker

Piotr Naskrecki's Image

A scientist caught this bat during a biodiversity survey. When Piotr spotted the parasite on the bat’s head, his interest was immediately aroused and he quickly started to take photographs for research. Piotr didn’t have much time before the bat was released, but he did manage to capture the bristles and claws of its firmly attached stowaway.

At first glance, the smaller animal looks like a spider, but gripped to the head of the Mozambican long‑fingered bat was actually a six-legged, wingless bat fly. This bloodsucking parasite moves around on its host, but usually sits on the lower back, out of reach. When a bat is in flight, the fly may sit on its host’s head instead.

Behind the lens

Piotr Naskrecki

Piotr Naskrecki


Piotr is an entomologist, conservation biologist and photographer with more than 20 years of experience in biodiversity research and exploration in both academia and non-profit conservation organisations. He’s discovered and described more than 150 species new to science, including new katydids, crabs, bats and lizards. Piotr currently directs the E O Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. He’s also initiated and helped to develop an extensive biodiversity education programme for Mozambican students, including Mozambique’s first graduate programme an MSc in Conservation Biology, all in the remote wilderness of Gorongosa.

Image details

  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • 100mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/200 sec at f16  •   ISO 400  •   Yongnuo flashes
  • Bunga Inselbergs, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
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