Currently viewing the category: "Robber Flies"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I need help identifying something strange (like you don’t hear that all the time). I was out on my porch the other day when I heard a buzzing sound from what I assumed was some sort of beetle or something. There are a lot of bugs around our wooded lot in western Virginia, so I didn’t think anything of it until it landed on the chair next to me. It was big (about 2 1/2" long and fairly "beefy"), blackish, and resembled a locust except for the soft yellow and black ringed body that tapered to a point at the end. I couldn’t see the wings while it was sitting there, but obviously it had some. I was immediately reminded of something from a sci-fi movie or a prehistoric critter on the Discovery Channel. I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find any descriptions or pictures resembling it. However, I’ll certainly be sure to take my camera with me whenever I take a cigarette break from now on.
-Michaele
(08/16/2004)
This is quite coincidental, in fact, because not two seconds before I checked my e-mail, it had returned out on my front porch and I was able to snap a picture. It’s not very good because I couldn’t get too close before it flew away, but here it is.
Michaele Davis

Hi again Michaele,
I’m glad you got the photo. You have a species of Robber Fly, Family Asilidae. These are predatory flies that it locates with those big eyes and often captures on wing. They are beneficial, though will bite people if mishandled. Based on your original description and your blurry photo, it seems like you have a Bee Killer also known as a Giant Robber Fly, Promachus fitchii. They are found in meadows and near honey bee hives from Massachusetts to Florida and west to Texas and North to Nebraska. According to our Audubon Insect Guide: “The Bee Killer often rests on leaves and branches with a clear view of flowers visited by Honey Bees. It seizes its victim from above, pierces its body and sucks out juices, then drops the emptied prey. A dozen or more bidies may pile up on the ground below a favorite perch.” Size can be deceptive. This species reaches 1 1/8 inches in length.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

BugMan,
I am hoping you can help me identify this bug. I have had several of them flying in my house and one has stung me (At least I think it was one like this, got me on the back of the neck, and since I did not see it and this is the only flying bug I have seen in my house I have given it the blame.) I know this is a picture of a dead bug and I really strive not to kill bugs but it was flying around in my daughters room and she would not calm down (4 years old would not stop crying) until it was dead and she could see it. So needless to say I was forced to kill it so I could sleep (Does this make me a bad person?). I live in Essex, MD, it was about an inch and a half long, 6 legs, long slender tail, big bug eyes, and 2 small antenna on its head (1mm maybe 2mm), one set of wings that were tan from top to bottom with only supports throughout no other coloring, and a small roundish buldge on the top of its back above the wings with stripes of brown and black. I am attaching 3 pictures to see if you can help identify it. Thanks for all your help.
Sincerely,
Matthew Rebbert

Hi Matthew,
Your insect is a Robber Fly, Family Asilidae. The adults are predatory, and are important in the control of many insect pests including Grasshoppers. The Robber Fly will attack insects much larger than itself. They are capable of inflicting a painful bite if carelessly handled, but they do not normally bite people. Robber Flies often find their way into homes. We would recommend trapping it in a glass when it alights on the window, and then releasing it. Show your daughter that the fly was taken outside so it could kill other bugs. Eric Eaton adds “Your specimen of Robber fly (reddish-yellow with black stripes) are Diogmites sp., the Hanging Thieves,” named for the way they suspend themselves from one pair of legs while feeding on a prey item.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination