Subject: Is it a bee?
Location: Bujumbura, Burundi, East Africa
February 23, 2013 3:16 pm
I wonder if you could help me in identifying the following bug – it was really big – perhaps two centimetres long, and when I first saw it it was flying, and out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was a beetle… at closer inspection, though it clearly wasn’t. It has dark wings, and it’s very sturdy indeed. Anyway, I managed to get this picture of it once it landed.
It was in Burundi, on the north coast of lake tanganyika, just over the border from tanzania.
I saw it about midday, and I could see its head swivelling from side to side as it looked around.
Would be fascinated to know what it is. Couldn’t believe how big it was!
This is one impressive Robber Fly in the family Asilidae. We quickly found a matching photo on The Featured Creature where it is identified as being in the genus Hyperechia. We found other photos on GorillaCD, the official site of the Virunga National Park and a followup provided this information: “I wrote to two guys at the Zoology Dept of University of Cape Town. One of them, Mike Picker, wrote a book on insects. Here’s what he said: ‘It’s a robberfly, probably genus Hyperechia. The diff. species of Hyperechia each mimic a different species of carpenter bee. The adult flies feed on carpenter bees and wasps, and the larvae also live in holes in wood with the carpenter bee larvae, on which they feed. There are other very large robberflies that mimic spider wasps.'” A similar looking individual posted to FlickR is identified as Hyperechia nigrita.