Large Unkown Fly
Location: South-Africa, Gauteng
February 4, 2012 4:40 pm
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…
Signature: Eugène McLaren
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.