What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Strange Wasp Flew into Home. Never Seen before!
August 7, 2009
Hello. I was recently helping move furniture out of my basement to help my sibling move out, and as I was returning through the door a massive dark bug flew in front of me and came inside. The bug was very large, about 2 inches long, and it made very loud buzzing. It landed on our ceiling lights, so we left the door open and turned off the lights hoping it would leave. Unfortunately, it decided to fly onto my mother, and fearing that it would sting her, we had to kill it with a shoe. Though the bug has been squished, I’m hoping I had reasonable cause to kill it and am hoping you can identify it. It had two wings, the body was entirely dark with no yellow, and the long abdomen was black with brown stripes. I have lived in Southeast Tennessee for 10 years and neither I nor my parents have ever seen a bug like this. Please let me know if you can figure it out!
Chattanooga, TN

Robber Fly Squished

Robber Fly Squished

Hi VolFan89,
This is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and they do not routinely attack humans, though if carelessly handled or threatened, we suspect they might bite.  We fully understand your fear and the reaction that caused you to squish this Robber Fly with a shoe, and we intend no malice in our assessment of Unnecessary Carnage.  We do not intend to imply that you are evil because of your instinctive protective action, and we hope that this will educate you in the future should you ever again encounter a Robber Fly.  Robber Flies are important predators and they should not be killed.  We are trying to use caution in our choice of words because we have recently been accused of libel and malicious intent and defamation of character after performing a free public service and identifying dead insects that we thought were killed unnecessarily and then posting the responses.  It has always been our intent to educate people and not to chastise.

The querant responds
I just don’t see the necessity to “file it under Unnecessary Carnage”. You guys are creating this problem for yourself when you could just leave it well enough alone. A simple suggestion would suffice, such as saying “They aren’t typically a threat, so please refrain from killing them.” instead of making every single person look like a criminal. A large and scary looking insect on somebody you love is a well enough reason to kill it, and condemning somebody for it is not my idea of rightful. Unfortunately, I agree that you’re violating your 1st amendment rights and committing libel, but hopefully whoever is suing you has lawyers that can reveal it better than  I can.

“A large and scary looking insect on somebody you love is a well enough reason to kill it” is precisely the reason it needs to be filed under Unnecessary Carnage.  Just because something is scary looking does not mean it is harmful and if every scary looking thing is killed, there might soon be nothing left on the planet.  Some people might even be scary looking. Calling an act unnecessary is not a libelous statement. Criminal is your word, not our word.  While we maintain that we bear no malice towards people who kill insects because they don’t know any better, it seems as though the statement “Unfortunately, I agree that you’re violating your 1st amendment rights and committing libel, but hopefully whoever is suing you has lawyers that can reveal it better than I can” does contain a degree of ill will directed towards What’s That Bug?  It does give one pause to ponder just who bears malice toward whom.

Unnecessary Carnage Comment
August 9, 2009
RE: unnecessary carnage
I love your site, and visit it several times a day. Many thanks for posting such lovely images and so much information (you helped me ID a one-eyed Sphinx moth here in Seattle)! I also love the fact that you tell folks when they have committed an act of unnecessary carnage, but sadly, you have been very hesitant to do so lately… Please don’t let one or two unhinged people keep you from providing a vital service- letting humans know that insects are innocent until proven guilty!
Leah S.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

5 Responses to Robber Fly, killed with a shoe out of fear

  1. memoore815 says:

    As an attorney, I am here to tell you not to worry (not that you were anyway). You cannot violate your own first amendment rights, someone else has to do that for you. Your site is wonderful – can I become a fan on facebook?
    I came here in the first place because I needed to reassure my husband that we do not need to squish our house centipedes and I have the necessary ammunition now. I had previously convinced him that the daddy long legs should be allowed to live in our kitchen because it eats the bugs we don’t want. I’m still trying to convince my 2 year old that dragon flies aren’t scary because they eat mosquitos, but she’s not prone to listening to reason yet.
    Anyway, keep up the good work and as Leah said, don’t let these silly people stop you from doing what must be done!

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for your sweet letter of encouragement Melissa. We weren’t really worried, but we also don’t want a tyrannical reputation since we feel we run a family friendly site. When we cover adult themes, we try to use witty rather than crude terminology. We are happy to hear you are trying to promote tolerance of House Centipedes and other benign but frightening creatures in your household. We would gladly welcome you to become a Facebook friend, but we somehow feel we couldn’t deal with one more internet forum at the moment. It is also without embarrassment that we proudly announce we might well be one of the last remaining Angelinos without a cellular telephone. In the interest of education, Dragonfly is one word. Generally, if “fly” if part of a compound word, the insect is not a true fly, like a butterfly or dobsonfly. True flies have two distinct words to the common name, like Robber Fly or Crane Fly.

  2. Mark M Castelluccio says:

    Excellent! I think your response to everyone is factual information about the smaller world of bugs that we share the planet with, great job!
    You REALLY should get on Facebook!

  3. Kamila says:

    A robber fly just got inside my house and it’s terrifying. Now it has just moved place and we can’t see it anymore. How would be the best way to get it out of the house without killing it?

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