Location: Gordonville, Texas
July 4, 2011 2:13 am
I had 6 of these things attack me yesterday. This was the first one I found and took pictures of that wasnt mangled after i got ahold of it. I dont know if there is more of them around, but i think so. This happened July 3, 2011, midday, in north central texas, Gordonville, to be exact. No idea, but I’m a grown ass man and when 5 divebombed me, I almost peed myself. theres a postcard in the pic for size reference.
We are fascinated by your letter, and we have some information for you, and we plan to continue to research this matter. This is a large Robber Fly, however, we are having difficulty identifying it on BugGuide. It reminds us of a Hanging Thief in the genus Diogmites, or a closely related genus, because of its physical structure. You can see other Hanging Thieves on BugGuide. We could not locate any matches though, and the next subfamily that has members with a similar structure is Stenopogoninae, but again, not matches on BugGuide. Our searches did lead us to this posting on BugGuide of Orthogonis stygia, and though we are quite certain it is not your species, this information is interesting: “This species was named over 50 years ago on the basis of half a dozen females. Only one more female had been found since. However I have been finding males regularly in deep wooded canyons in the shady understory on well-rotted oak logs usually on a slope. The males are very possessive of their logs, even challenging humans who come too close, with wasp-like threat displays, and by following you around as long as you are present. I have found them in three east-Arkansas counties. If areas such as I have described are searched, it may turn out that this extremely rare robber fly is not so rare after all. Norman Lavers.” Perhaps a group of male Robber Flies was defending territory in the hope of luring a mate, and that could explain the attack you experienced. We have requested additional assistance with this interesting Robber Fly.
Eric Eaton Comments
I agree it is something related to a hanging thief, but maybe not in that genus….Can’t explain the behavior he is describing, unless they were actually catching mosquitoes or some other insects that were in close proximity to the people…..
Robert Cannings Responds
Eric Fisher and I both say it’s a Saropogon [See BugGuide]species. Eric, who’s much better at these than me, thinks it’s probably S. dispar, which is common in parts of Texas. As for the 5 or 6 dive bombers, ….. Honestly, we can’t understand what might have happened.
Ed. NOte: Last summer, both Robert Cannings and Eric Fisher assisted in identifying another member of the genus, Sarpogon combustus.