Bee-Like Robber Fly

Unknown Insect
Location: SW Florida
March 11, 2011 7:27 pm
Haven’t seen this one before. Found in a local park. Landed only on leaves & always faced me when moving from leaf to leaf. About 2 inches long. Also flies. Head swivels like Dragonflies does. I’ve been taking nature photos for 20 years & this bug is a new one for me & I cannot find it in any of my critter I.D. books. Hope you can help, thnak you.
Signature: Susan

Bee-Like Robber Fly

Hi Susan,
This is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, but we are having problems with a more specific identification.  We believe it is either in either the genus
Mallophora or the genus Laphria, both of which mimic bees.  These predatory Robber Flies are fierce hunters and they prey upon bees, wasps and other large flying insects which they attack on the wingWe are favoring Laphria, because it appears that the antennae are thicker, though the angle of your photograph makes that feature difficult to verify.  There are numerous species in the genus Laphria, and we are having problems identifying all the features your specimen possesses and matching them to a specific species.  The combination of yellow beard, yellow thorax, yellow markings on abdomen, and yellow hairs on the legs should be distinguishing features, and we cannot seem to find a match on BugGuide.  We are going to try to contact a Robber Fly expert, Dr. Robert Cannings, to see if he is able to provide a species identification.

Bee-Like Robber Fly

Hi Daniel:
It’s good to hear from you.
The robber fly is definitely a Laphria. There are a number of species in Florida, and I’m not familiar enough with them to be able to make a reasonable guess at this one’s identity. It’s a nice photo, but I can’t see the sides of the thorax or the abdominal colour pattern well enough to run it through a key.  You could try Eric Fisher who knows much more about southern US species than I do.
Sorry I can’t be of more help.

7 thoughts on “Bee-Like Robber Fly”

  1. not only in Fl…this critter was photgraphed on my porch in Ohio. matching the behavioural description to a “t”.

  2. We just saw this type of fly on a bike trail in Blue Springs, MO. Snapped a few pictures before we moved on. Very interesting, like a bumblebee dragonfly!

  3. Just saw this Robber Fly with a captured Green June Bug (Cotinis nitida) in Dripping Springs TX (near Austin). RF flew off with its prey when I got close to them.

    • Wow, we wish you had an image. Most of our Robber Fly food chain images picture wasps or bees as prey. A Green June Beetle is quite the heavy payload for the much lighter weight Robber Fly.

  4. I’ve just had these arrive in my yard here in Fair Oaks, CA. Never seen them before, live in California most of my life. We’re have massive and widespread fires right now, which makes me wonder if they’re not fleeing the fires.

  5. This is exactly what I just found in my back yard. Everything in the description is exactly what I noticed, I even sketched it and wrote that exact description. I’m in North West GA, south west of the beginning of the Appalachian mountains.


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