Currently viewing the category: "Robber Flies"
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Identification of ?Robber Fly and Scorpion Fly
Dear Bugman,
Happened upon your site tonight and am most excited! Have bought several books and trying to identify local species in our Southern Tablelands area of NSW, Australia. Hubby and I spend a good deal of time at Bungonia State Recreation Area doing the lazy man tours of the gorgeous bush to see what interesting things we c an find…..we are never disappointed! What first started out as just native flowers and now turned into fauna and in particular, BUGS!I’ve attached two photographs taken this month and am hoping you can identify them. They’re beauties! Cheers!
Katherine & Ricky Lee

Hi Katherine and Ricky Lee,
Getting different species of insects in the same letter complicates our posting, so we are giving your Robber Fly its own posting. We can’t tell you the species, but perhaps our faithful reader Grev will write in and positively identify your specimen. The Geocities website includes some similar looking Robber Flies.

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Fly found in Australia
Hi Bugman,
a friend of mine saw this fly and thinking of my entomology studies and insect collection he tried to catch it for me… he wasn’t sure what it was, and thinking that it may sting him, he hit it with a cloth and killed it (sigh). As you can see from the photo the thorax is very damaged but the rest of the body remains intact. I am stumped with it’s identification however as I believe it’s in the suborder Brachycera, Family Pantophthalmide. I have attached a photo and link of a Pantophthalmus sp. that I believe to be similar to this specimen. As far as I have found this family is located only in mid-to-south America (Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rico…) and am unable to research further as I can’t speak/read the language. Am I right in identification or way of the mark??? I am located in the mid-coast of the state New South Wales, Australia. It is generally a temperate climate where this specimen was found – not the neotropcial climate that the Pantophthalmide are said to reside. Any help would be greatly appreciated,
Pantophthalmus photo:

Hi Elysha,
We need to bring in some big guns for this one. We are starting by correcting the spelling on the family in question and adding the missing “a” to Pantophthalmidae. We found a UC Riverside “Bug Spotlight” page on the family Pantophthalmidae that was written by Doug Yanega and we have contacted him to try to get his expert opinion. We will also contact Eric Eaton who frequently assists us in identifications. Meanwhile we are posting you image and waiting for our readership (yes that is you Grev) to comment.

Update: (01/06/2007) Large Australian Mystery Fly
Hi Daniel,
Have a look at this site (especially the last photo) What do you reckon?

Hi Grev,
It looks like you have nailed the identification to a large Robber Fly, Blepharotes coriarius. The website you located included the following information: “This is the only specimen I’ve seen. I’ve borrowed “Australian Insects” by Keith McKeown, from the library. Fortunately it has a good (black and white) water colour rendition of the fly and describes it thus: ‘The finest of all the Australian Asilidae. A very large black fly with the upper surface of its broad abdomen bright orange and tufted along the sides with patches of black and white hairs. The face is densely bearded. The wings are a rich smoky brown. It is rather a common insect in inland districts, especially in the Riverina, where it rests on fence posts and tree trunks in the hot sunshine. It flies away with a loud buzz when disturbed, often bearing away its impaled prey.’ “

Thanks so much for your help Daniel and Grev,
The photo with the “wings folded flat in line with the abdomen” makes it look exactly like a robber fly… I wonder if my specimen wasn’t so mangled if I would have recognized this? Well done guys! Cheers,

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What in the World!!! Please Help!
Dear Bugman,
I found your site about two months ago after being pinched by a beetle. Great photos, and descriptions=hours of fun. Anyway, these guys were flying around having a good time scarring my niece. I haven’t seen any like this before (we live in Central Illinois). I looked through your pages on bees, wasps and dragonflies, but couldn’t find a match. Any help would be much appreciated (and also end a family discussion on the bugs identity)! Thank you, keep up the great work and have a great day!!!!
Kim B.

Hi Kim,
Your mating insects are Robber Flies in the family Asilidae, possibly Giant Robber Flies in the genus Promachus.

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Possible Brachonid Wasp
I saw this Wasp-like insect this morning through my kitchen window near Benson, Arizona. It is large (maybe 2 – 3"), orange body, dark wings, white face with short red antenae. Two photos of this insect attached. I searched your pic and think this is in the Brachonid Wasp family. Thank you,
Carol Breton
Benson, Arizona

Hi Carol,
This is a Robber Fly, not a Brachonid Wasp. It sure looks like on of the Hanging Thieves in the genus Diogmites, but there are no exact species matches on BugGuide. We will contact Eric Eaton and Martin Hauser to see if either of them knows the species.

Update: (09/26/2007)
Hi Daniel,
I sent the pics to Eric Fisher, who knows everything about robbers (only the flying ones). He told me it is Archilestris magnificus (Walker), a Mexican species which has been only a few times collected in Arizon, but nowhere else in the US… It is not really a hanging thief, but it sure looks like one. Great catch! Cheers
Martin Hauser

Comment: (09/26/2007)
Wow! Hey, I think a friend of mine got one across the border in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico back in 1989. We were on vacation together, and this big robber fly was trying to get out of a storefront window. So my friend paid the dude for the fly! LOL! Wish I would have tried to outbid him:-) Hope we can get these images migrated over to Bugguide, as I’m sure it would be a new genus and species….but I also know how busy you are, Daniel. Maybe Eric Fisher can take a look at our Bugguide asilids and confirm IDs?
Eric Eaton

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fly with an attitude!
Dear Whatsthatbugers,
Looks like a bumblebee but I know better. This robberfly is a resident of my garden what a noble creature it is. I can’t imagine how she (he) captured this red wasp. I live in central Texas (San Marcos) and am curious about just which species this is. Thank you kindly.

Hi Diane,
Noble is not usually an adjective that we hear attached to an insect, but this Bee Killer, a Robber Fly in the genus Mallophora, is surely befitting the descriptive.

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Maybe a Golden Back Snipe Fly?
This thing was big! I’ve seen a couple of these buzzing around a flowering shrub this summer. This one had gotten trapped in our screened back porch. It buzzed around like mad, then settled down so I photographed it at length. Then it dropped down dead. Must have been the 108 degree temperature. It’s been mighty hot here in the Ozarks the past week or so. And bone dry. I cropped and compressed this photo so it wouldn’t be huge. I have numerous HQ photos of this insect if you want. I’m sure it’s a "fly" of some sort, just unsure as to what. Thanks!
Gary Parnell
Mnt. Home, AR

Hi Gary,
This is one of the Giant Robber Flies, the Red Footed Cannibalfly, Promachus rufipes. It is also known as a Bee Panther. BugGuide has some great photos.

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