Currently viewing the category: "Robber Flies"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Identification
Location: Ghanzi, Botswana, Africa
May 20, 2014 5:19 am
Good day,
I wish to inquire on the name of this insect.
Regards
Alan
Signature: This bug is…

Robber Fly

Robber Fly

Dear Alan,
This impressive predator is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  Many large Robber Flies mimic bees, and this individual appears to be a good bee mimic.  Large Robber Flies are able to prey upon hornets and wasps and other large flying insects, and they are very adept at taking prey on the wing.  We will attempt to identify your Robber Fly to the species level.  We located a very similar looking Robber Fly on iSpot, but it is not identified.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: what’s this bug
Location: 1 hr north of Houston TX
April 29, 2014 6:17 pm
I only got one pic of this bug before it flew away, so it can fly. It has a very unique marking on the top of the thorax, huge eyes. Looks like a digging or stabbing beak. Hairy legs. this bug is between 1 1/2 and 2 inches long.
Signature: I don’t know the answer

Robber Fly:  Laphria saffrana

Robber Fly: Laphria saffrana

And we are very happy you managed to get that one photo.  This is a Bee-Like Robber Fly, Laphria saffrana.  We identified this magnificent predator on BugGuide where it states:  “Bromley (1934) considered this species to be a mimic of the queen of the southern yellowjacket, Vespula squamosa.”  Laphria saffrana is also represented on iNaturalist.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: A Dragonfly of some sort?
Location: South Central Pennsylvania
March 16, 2014 7:38 pm
I took this photo in my yard last summer. I cannot find any photos anywhere that look similar.
I never saw one before. Hoping you can help to identify it.
Signature: Karen

Red Footed Cannibalfly

Red Footed Cannibalfly

Hi Karen,
Though this is a highly off season posting, we are nonetheless thrilled to post your spectacular image of one of the most adept insect predators in North America, the Red Footed Cannibalfly,
Promachus rufipes, a species of Giant Robber Fly.  Your individual appears to be feeding on a Wasp.  According to BugGuide:  “Preys on large flying insects. Has been reported to attack Ruby-throated Hummingbirds” with a link to Hilton Pond.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Unknown Bug rural new south wales
Location: New South Wales, australia
January 30, 2014 6:43 pm
Hi there
Have been seeing in increase in strange insects over the course of this summer. found this one on our porch this morning. Unable to find anything online that looks close to this little fellow. He made a buzzing sound when he flew and didn’t fly in a straight line, more like a zigzag motion. he seemed curious about me and landed on my shirt before flying off but didn’t display any aggressive behavior.
Its the middle of summer here and extremely hot in a rural setting of new south wales, Australia.
any help would identifying him be appreciated.
Signature: Belinda

Robber Fly:  Blepharotes species

Robber Fly: Blepharotes species

Hi Belinda,
Your email did not include any details regarding the size of this impressive Robber Fly in the genus
Blepharotes.  We wish your photo showed the color of the abdomen.  We have several examples on our site of Blepharotes coriarius, the Giant Yellow Robber Fly.  Max Campbell’s website states:  “This is the only specimen I’ve seen. I’ve borrowed ‘Australian Insects’ by Keith McKeown, from the library. Fortunately it has a good (black and white) water colour rendition of the fly and describes it thus:  ‘The finest of all the Australian Asilidae. A very large black fly with the upper surface of its broad abdomen bright orange and tufted along the sides with patches of black and white hairs. The face is densely bearded. The wings are a rich smoky brown.  It is rather a common insect in inland districts, especially in the Riverina, where it rests on fence posts and tree trunks in the hot sunshine. It flies away with a loud buzz when disturbed, often bearing away its impaled prey.'”  We wouldn’t want to rule out that it might be Blepharotes splendissimus which has a dark abdomen and is pictured on DKImages.  Did you get a look at the abdomen?   

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Identification of a bug / insect
Location: HMAS Cerberus, Hastings, Victoria
January 22, 2014 12:59 pm
Hi,
Hoping you can help me please.
I was at HMAS Cerberus earlier this week. I had asked my son to stand next to a monument for a photo. He spotted a bee and said “I’m not standing there, I don’t want to get stung” .. then out of nowhere, this huge bug / insect came flying past me, picked the bee out of the air and landed on the monument …. I told Jordan he didn’t have to worry about the bee anymore! hahaha
But taking photos of the insect, I have never seen one before and would like to find out what it is if possible. It’s an amazing looking bug. The feet on it look like hooves! Please see attached photos.
Thanks and kind regards,
Jen.
Melbourne, Australia
Signature: Jen – Jen’s Freelance Photography

Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

Common Brown Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

Hi Jen,
What an amusing anecdote you have provided.  Did Jordan worry about this considerably larger, predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae?  Based on photos on the Brisbane Insect website, we believe this might be a Common Brown Robber Fly in the genus
Zosteria.  Robber Flies are very adept hunters and they often take large prey, including bees and wasps, while on the wing, just as you witnessed.

Common Brown Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

Common Brown Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

Hi Daniel,
Thanks so much for your reply.
Funnily enough, Jordan wasn’t as worried about the much larger “Robber Fly”.  It looked somewhat like a dragon fly and didn’t have a stinger on it’s tail so we were both thinking at the time that it was relatively harmless (until I read up on them!).  Seeing it take the bee mid flight, hearing an almost “thud” as it landed and then watching it devour it’s prey should have been a hint, in heinsight, that this was not a particularly friendly creature …. hahahaha.
I had sent an email to yourselves and also Pestworld.org   …  the people at Pestworld.org loved my images so much that they will now be using them on their website for identification purposes, which is fantastic.
Thanks so much for taking the time to get back to me.  Should I encounter any further strange little creatures in my travels, I will forward them on.
Thanks and kind regards,
Jen.
Jeannie Van Den Boogaard
Jen’s Freelance Photography

Hi again Jen,
For the record, Robber Flies do not prey upon people and we have never gotten a report from a person who was bitten by a Robber Fly.  We suspect that if a Robber Fly is captured in one’s hands, a bite might result.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Fly identification
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
December 31, 2013 2:45 pm
We were hoping that somebody in your institution could help us identify this insect we saw at a lodge we were staying at in the Masai Mara. It was a couple of inches long and was the biggest fly we have ever seen!
Please would it be possible for someone to give us an idea of what sort of fly it was? We would really appreciate your help.
Signature: Clara

Robber Fly

Robber Fly

Hi Clara,
This appears to be a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, a group of predators that can take large insect prey while on the wing.  We have several other photos of large Robber Flies from Africa in our achives, including this
Proagonistes species from South Africa and this Carpenter Bee Robber Fly, also from South Africa.  The one other possibility that we are considering is that perhaps this is a Bot Fly in the family Oestridae.  The organs at the base of the wings, which we believe are called calypters, are distinctive in Bot Flies and this individual has very developed ones, however the furry legs remind us more of the legs of a Robber Fly.  As an aside, while researching this posting, we learned that the largest fly in Africa is the Rhinoceros Bot Fly, Gyrostigma rhinocerontis, and you can view a photo of it on Natural History Museum.   

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination