Catching up post: 5th-10th
The rather ominous looking creature seems to be a fly of the tachinid type. They eat aphids and thrips and their larvae are parasitic on other pests. In seeking to identify it, I found an amazing number of flies that look like other things – bees and wasps, for example. Close up photos make them look very much like science fiction characters or rather, the characters seem to be modeled after flies!