Currently viewing the category: "Robber Flies"
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

Subject: Red Footed Cannibalfly?
Location: Sydney, Australia
November 27, 2013 7:14 pm
Hello,
I believe this is a Red Footed Cannibalfly, after seeing similar pictures on your site! Thank you for your informative pages, I was just so curious to identify this insect when I saw it catch a bee and fly away with it!
I am in Australia, and it is summer – have never seen or heard of these before… are they common to Australia? I was wondering where they typically live/breed (trees? burrows?) and are they harmful to pets at all?
Signature: Evie.

Robber Fly with prey

Robber Fly with prey

Hi Evie,
The Red Footed Cannibalfly is a North American species of Robber Fly, and your individual is a Robber Fly as well, but a different species.  It appears that your large Robber Fly is feeding on a Honey Bee, and bees and wasps are common prey for the large Robber Flies.  Your Robber Fly resembles this
Cerdistus species pictured on the Brisbane Insect website.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Carpenter Bee Robber Fly
Location: Johannesburg South Africa
November 21, 2013 2:47 am
I took these yesterday in my drive way.
Signature: Tiaan

Carpenter Bee Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

Carpenter Bee Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

Hi Tiaan,
Thanks for sending us your photos of a Carpenter Bee Robber Fly,
Hyperechia marshalli, feeding on a Honey Bee.  They are a nice addition to our Food Chain tag.

Carpenter Bee Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

Carpenter Bee Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Tiny, graceful, and apparently not a fairyfly
Location: southern California
October 25, 2013 9:19 pm
Hi again! I’ve written in a few times, and am very grateful for the identifications. I found this little flying beauty on one of my bug walks in southern California today (October 25). It is in a garden; there is a stream nearby, but not immediately proximate to this plant. The insect is about the size of a mosquito. With its long, delicate abdomen, it looked like a fairy to me when it was in flight, but as far as I can tell the term ”fairyfly” is applied to a totally different kind of insect. After spending some time unsure of where to even begin in identifying this lovely creature, I’m conceding defeat. Can you help me?
Signature: Amanda

Possibly Syrphid Fly

Robber Fly

Dear Amanda,
We really wish your photo revealed some individual features of this unusual insect.  The head and eyes look like those of a Fly in the order Diptera, and the body most closely resembles that of a wasp in the order Hymenoptera.  The fly family Syrphidae contains many individuals that mimic stinging Hymenopterans, so that is our best guess.  We were unable to find any matching images on BugGuide, but we did locate two that are somewhat similar, including
Baccha elongata and Pseudodoros clavatus.  Though they look somewhat similar, we are quite certain neither of those is your species.  The hind legs on your individual are very distinctive, which should aid in the correct identification.  We are going to contact Eric Eaton for assistance.

Possibly Syrphid Fly

Robber Fly

Update:  Bee Fly is Another Possibility
We are now entertaining the possibility that this might be a Bee Fly in the family Bombyliidae as there is a similarity to the genus
Systropus that is pictured on BugGuide.

Correction Courtesy of Eric Eaton
Hi, Daniel:
This is actually a robber fly in the subfamily Leptogastrinae.  Most of the genera have this skinny appearance.
Eric

Thanks very much to you and Eric! I had actually briefly entertained the idea of a robber fly because of the way it was hanging, but I just thought it was much too small so I didn’t look closer at that idea. That’s great to know.

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination