What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Large Unkown Fly
Location: South-Africa, Gauteng
February 4, 2012 4:40 pm
Dear Bugman,
I live in South Africa. We have a huge diversity in insects. I was in our town outside a clothing store, and there is this waste high, round steel barrier (about 3-4 inch wide) in front of it. As I waited outside the store an insect came and sat on this steel barrier… At very 1st I quickly thought it might be a bumble bee of some sort as it has quite a large size. It was black, very hairy and with 1 white stripe on its back above the wings. Upon closer inspection I realized that it was some sort of fly. I immediately took out my mobile phone and took 3 photos before it flew away. I have NEVER in my 30 years seen a fly like this and at such a huge size. Can you please tell me what it could be, as I think this might be a new species Insecta Diptera…
Thank you!
Signature: Eugène McLaren

Carpenter Bee Robber Fly

Dear Eugène,
This magnificent predator is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We are not certain of the species, but it most closely resembles North American Robber Flies in the genus
Laphria, the Bee-Like Robber Flies.  On BugGuide they are described as “most species are black and yellow mimics of bumble bees or carpenter bees.”  The Bee-Like Robber Flies look similar to the Bee Killers in the genus Mallophora, but they can be distinguished by their antennae.  According to BugGuide, the Bee Killers are:  “Large, fuzzy, bee-mimicking robber flies. 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.”  Your individual has the thick antennae.  Continued research revealed that this is an entirely different genus.  We believe we have correctly identified your Carpenter Bee Robber Fly, Hyperechia marshalli, by a description on the Google Books Field Guide to Insects of South Africa where it is described as:  “Large (wingspan 34-44 mm), stout carpenter bee-mimic, uniformly black with yellow to yellowish white band of hair on hind margin of metathorax.  Legs thickly covered with long hair.  Biology: “Rests and oviposits on tree trunks.  Adults hunt from dead trunks bored by carpenter bees.  They feed on carpenter bees and other bees and wasps.  Larvae bore and live in wood tunnels in association with carpenter bee larvae, on which they are reported to feed.”  We then found a matching image on Global Species.  There is a nice photo on FlickR and another on ZipZode Zoo.

Carpenter Bee Robber Fly

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Africa

10 Responses to Carpenter Bee Robber Fly from South Africa

  1. rob says:

    Hello Bugman

    I took a few pics of one of these beautiful creatures:-)
    Sadly I only have a camera in my mobile phone but tried to get as close as I could:-) This was just after I noticed he had grabbed a wasp in the air and then landed to have his lunch.

    I am having a hard time loading the pic to my comment.. so will email them to you:-)

    Rob

  2. sarel bester says:

    I see one on my farm near Vryburg North West South Africa about n week agou.

  3. Adam says:

    Good day
    I Live in Kloof in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa , just wanted to say i have seen the same type of Fly/Bee and it was Big and Hairy and 100% certain its the same or the giant in this species .

    Kind regards
    Adam

  4. Stuart Louw says:

    I have a problem with theses Carpenter bee robber fly boring into my exposed roof trusses in my house in Pretoria, South Africa. The exposed ends were treated with creosote, but obviously not recently as it didn’t stop them penetrating. Any advise please as I need to get rid of them?

  5. L Mueller says:

    I live in South Texas. This insect was in my yard this morning.
    I thought it was a bee but could not understand why it was black and white. Then I noticed it was more fly like. It was struggling to get out of my watered lawn. I put a large leaf under it, raised it up, and it flew away. We get “African Dust”. Could this insect have traveled all the way from Africa or be something entirely different? I know it lookef just like the photo above.

  6. Brenne says:

    We have returned from the beach in lower Mozambique where both these flies and carpenter bees were in abundance. They often try to land on the surfers and it’s comical to see them trying to wave them away. They are very persistent though… it doesn’t matter how many times you wave them away they will always come back. They also seem to be attracted to very bright colors… i had a red air lounger on the beach and they were constantly
    resting on it. They look like they could have a nasty bite or sting… can anyone confirm this ?

  7. Jeanine says:

    Good day I would just like to find out what can happen to a person if the carpenter bee robber fly bites you. We had a incident where someting bit my son that was black and flew away he couldn’t see how it looks was to fast he lost is index finger from te bite

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