I need help identifying something strange (like you don’t hear that all the time). I was out on my porch the other day when I heard a buzzing sound from what I assumed was some sort of beetle or something. There are a lot of bugs around our wooded lot in western Virginia, so I didn’t think anything of it until it landed on the chair next to me. It was big (about 2 1/2" long and fairly "beefy"), blackish, and resembled a locust except for the soft yellow and black ringed body that tapered to a point at the end. I couldn’t see the wings while it was sitting there, but obviously it had some. I was immediately reminded of something from a sci-fi movie or a prehistoric critter on the Discovery Channel. I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find any descriptions or pictures resembling it. However, I’ll certainly be sure to take my camera with me whenever I take a cigarette break from now on.
This is quite coincidental, in fact, because not two seconds before I checked my e-mail, it had returned out on my front porch and I was able to snap a picture. It’s not very good because I couldn’t get too close before it flew away, but here it is.
Michaele Davis

Hi again Michaele,
I’m glad you got the photo. You have a species of Robber Fly, Family Asilidae. These are predatory flies that it locates with those big eyes and often captures on wing. They are beneficial, though will bite people if mishandled. Based on your original description and your blurry photo, it seems like you have a Bee Killer also known as a Giant Robber Fly, Promachus fitchii. They are found in meadows and near honey bee hives from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Texas and North to Nebraska. According to our Audubon Insect Guide: “The Bee Killer often rests on leaves and branches with a clear view of flowers visited by Honey Bees. It seizes its victim from above, pierces its body and sucks out juices, then drops the emptied prey. A dozen or more bidies may pile up on the ground below a favorite perch.” Size can be deceptive. This species reaches 1 1/8 inches in length.

One Response to Bee Killer

  1. Curious says:

    Thank you! It is good to know that we were at least in the right general area for an identification even if we didn’t get it quite right. We had noticed that the black and yellow color pattern seemed reversed, but we had not found anyone with our guy’s pattern.

    Thanks again for all the work you do.

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