Large Wasp in AZ
Location: Tuwhicson, AZ
June 24, 2011 8:52 pm
I took this picture of this huge wasp-type insect in Tucson, AZ and I’ve been trying to figure out what it is. It was maybe about 1.5” – 2” in length. The closest-resembling thing I’ve been able to find is the tarantula hawk, but I’ve only read about those having black abdomens/bodies with orange wings. Can you please identify my bug?? Thanks!!
This is not a Wasp. At first we thought it might be a Robber Fly, and we found a Robber Fly from Arizona on BugGuide, Archilestris magnificus, that is colored similarly, but alas, the antennae are quite different. We then shifted to what our first impression was, that this might be a Mydas Fly, and we found a photo from Colorado on BugGuide of Phyllomydas phyllocerus which matches quite nicely. Additionally, there is a nice closeup of a related individual from Florida on BugGuide that also looks close. We cannot say for certain that either the genus or species is correct, but we are relatively certain that this is in fact a Mydas Fly.
Thanks for your help and your quick response!!! Your website is excellent. I started thinking after I posted my photo that it might be a fly because of the trumpet-shaped thing coming out of its face/mouth – or whatever flies bite/suck with. I’m not up on my insect terminology. That is one huge fly! I’m relieved to know that it’s not a tarantula hawk.
You are correct that wasps and flies have very different mouth anatomies. Flies have a proboscis designed for sucking up food, and wasps have mandibles for chewing food. Here is how the Utah Education Network website describes the mouth of a fly: “Flies cannot chew. They have to suck up their food. Flies have mouth parts that absorb food like a sponge. Their food has to be in a liquid form in order for them to eat it. They have a tongue shaped like a drinking straw to slurp up their meals. Flies that eat nectar or blood do so by using their tongue which is called a proboscis. Even flies that eat other insects do so by sucking out the insides of their victims.”
Eric Eaton confirms ID
Sure looks like a Mydas sp. to me. Nice detective work!