Giant bee eating Japanese beetle
July 30, 2009
While working in my garden, i came across what appeared to be a giant bumblebee eating a Japanese beetle. The bee had a fuzzy abdomen that was striped yellow and black. It was between 1 3/4 ” and 2 ” long. The Japanese beetle was 1/2 ” long. The bee was flying around holding the beetle in it’s mouth. It was huge! Any ideas on what it is?
Floyd county, VA

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Japanese Beetle

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Japanese Beetle

Hi tree,
About a week ago we receive a question if Robber Flies ate Japanese Beetles.  We wish your photo had arrived before we answered.  Since Japanese Beetles are an invasive exotic species that does considerable damage to ornamental plants, many gardeners would welcome these Robber Flies into their yards, including our own mother in Ohio.   This is a Bee-Like Robber Fly in the genus Laphria, which can be distinguished from the genus Mallophora by the antennae.  This is explained on BugGuide on the Mallophora genus page thus:  “Resemble Laphria, another genus of robbers that mimic bumblebees, but is even hairier and has antennae with a very thin terminal final segment, whereas Laphria has thick antennae.
”  Based on images posted to BugGuide, we believe your specimen most closely resembles Laphria grossa, but we would like an expert confirmation on the species.

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Japanese Beetle

Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Japanese Beetle

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6 Responses to Bee-Like Robber Fly eats Japanese Beetle

  1. Cindy says:

    Thanks for posting this. I noticed that the japanese beetles seemed to have disappeared and I have a thriving population on what I thought were bumble bees on steroids. I hope they come back next year as I am sure the japanese beetles will be back. Both bugs seem to love marigolds

  2. Trippticket says:

    So it’s a robber fly and not a bee at all! Thanks for clarifying. All I knew was that I wanted more of them, flying around with Japanese beetles in their maws! Now I just need to figure out how to improve habitat for them…

  3. Luke says:

    I also have witnessed a similar event while working as an Avian point count tech. in South central PA around Bedford.

  4. Grackle says:

    Just saw one in my garden in Ravena, New York! I have also noticed a decline in Japanese beetles this year!

  5. Robin Guelta says:

    i saw this today in the garden. i was very excited about it and now know that was robber fly and not a bumblebee. Are these flys dangerous to beneficial insects? We keep honeybees. Should we worry about these robber flys? Of course DELIGHTED to have an ally against those damn beetles.

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