How to Get Rid of Robber Flies: Effective Methods & Prevention Tips

Robber flies are predatory insects known for their voracious appetite and ability to feed on various arthropods, including wasps, bees, and dragonflies. These flies may seem intimidating, but they play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance between insect populations in different habitats. Yet, in some cases, they might become a nuisance and need to be managed.

There are several methods to get rid of robber flies in your garden or home. One effective approach is using traps designed to attract and capture these pesky insects. On the other hand, natural predators can also help to control their population, ensuring the protection of beneficial insects in your garden.

In the following article, we’ll discuss different methods of robber fly management and explore their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision. Stay tuned for more tips and information on effectively dealing with these intriguing predators.

Understanding Robber Flies

Characteristics and Size

Robber flies, belonging to the Asilidae family, are medium-sized to large, bristly, or hairy flies found in North America. They are often confused with biting flies but are not blood feeders.

Distinct features:

  • Pointy, knifelike proboscis (mouthparts)
  • Bearded face
  • Long, tapered abdomen
  • Humpbacked appearance
  • Spiny legs
  • Brown, gray, or black coloration

Robber flies can vary in size, with some reaching lengths of up to 1.5 inches.

Comparison table between Robber Flies and Biting Flies:

Robber Flies Biting Flies
Blood feeding No Yes
Forms of attraction Insects as prey Attracted to human/animals
Appearance Bearded face Smooth face
Benefit to humans Predatory insects Mostly nuisance/pest

Biology and Life Cycle

Robber flies are predatory flies that perch in open areas and swivel their heads to search for insect prey. They tend to ambush their prey by pouncing on them from midair. Their life cycle includes the following stages:

  1. Egg
  2. Larva
  3. Pupa
  4. Adult

IMPORTANT:
Robber flies are considered beneficial predators, as they help control other insect populations by feeding on pests such as mosquitoes, beetles, and grasshoppers.

Natural Predators and Benefits

Role in Ecosystem

Robber flies are a beneficial predator in various ecosystems, such as grasslands and forests. They help maintain the balance in the ecosystem by preying on numerous insect pests.

Preying on Pests

Robber flies attack and consume several pest insects, including bees, wasps, and other flies. This significantly reduces infestations and protects plants from pest damage.

Key features of robber flies:

  • Efficient pest predators
  • Control various insect pests
  • Contribute to maintain ecosystem balance

Pros of having robber flies:

  • Reduces pest infestations
  • Minimizes plant damage
  • Lowers the need for chemical insecticides

Cons of having robber flies:

  • Can sometimes attack beneficial insects like bees and wasps

Comparison table of robber flies and other predators:

Predator Ecosystem Prey Benefit
Robber fly Grasslands, forests Bees, wasps, other flies Reduces pest infestations, protects plants
Parasitic wasp Various Caterpillars, aphids, scale insects Biological control; parasitizes pest insects

By understanding robber flies and their role as natural predators, we can appreciate their benefits in controlling infestations in ecosystems and gardens.

Prevention and Control Measures

Sealing Your Home

  • Doors and windows: Ensure all doors and windows are well-fitted with screens to prevent houseflies and other flying insects from entering.
  • Weather stripping: Apply weather stripping to gaps around doors and windows to further deter robber flies from entering.

Reducing Attractive Factors

  • Eliminate standing water: House flies and flying insects are attracted to standing water, so ensure to keep drainage systems clear and remove any stagnant water from your property.
  • Properly store food and waste: Dispose of food waste in sealed bins and clean up spills and crumbs immediately. This helps to reduce fly-attracting odors.

Safe Fly Traps and Repellents

  • Fly traps and fly paper: These sticky, adhesive products can be hung near windows and entry points to catch flies without the use of harmful chemicals.
  • Essential oils: Some essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, and citronella can act as natural bug repellents to deter house flies and other pests.

While implementing these preventive measures, it’s important to maintain a balanced pest management approach. One method might not be able to completely control the issue, so it’s essential to combine the most relevant and effective options.

Natural Repellents and Solutions

Using Herbs and Plants

Robber flies can be deterred by certain herbs and plants.

For example, lavender, eucalyptus, and lemongrass are known to be effective fly repellents. Planting marigolds and other flowers can help keep these insects at bay.

Homemade Fly Traps and Sprays

You can create your own fly traps and sprays to deal with robber flies.

A simple trap involves apple cider vinegar, dish soap, and water. Mix these ingredients and place them in a container to attract and trap flies.

Another option is using a light trap or growing a Venus flytrap to catch these pests.

Method Pros Cons
Apple Cider Vinegar Trap Eco-friendly, easy to make May not catch all flies
Light Trap Effective in attracting flies Requires electricity, expensive
Venus Flytrap Natural and attractive solution Only catches a few flies

Fly Repellents and Solutions to Try

  • Basil: Planting basil around your home can help deter robber flies.
  • Mint: Mint possesses strong aromatic properties that can repel flies.
  • Cayenne pepper: Spraying cayenne pepper solution can deter flies from landing in certain areas.
  • Citronella candles: These candles emit a scent that may help keep flies away.

By implementing these natural solutions, you can effectively minimize the presence of robber flies around your home and garden.

Tips for Maintaining a Clean Environment

Eliminating Food Sources

One key aspect of maintaining a clean environment is eliminating food sources for pests like robber flies. Some common food sources include:

  • Dirty dishes: Always clean and put away dishes promptly.
  • Garbage cans: Make sure to cover and regularly empty garbage cans.
  • Animal feces: Dispose of pet waste daily.

Reducing these food sources can help deter pests such as fruit flies and maggots.

Managing Compost and Waste

Properly managing compost and waste materials can also help prevent robber fly infestations. Some important practices include:

  • Compost piles: Make sure to turn and aerate compost piles regularly.
  • Moisture: Avoid excess moisture to discourage breeding.
  • Manure: Keep animal manure well maintained and contained.

By effectively managing compost and waste, you also help prevent issues related to unwanted pests like maggots.

Pet Care and Hygiene

Proper pet care and hygiene contribute to a cleaner environment and reduced risk of robber fly infestations. Some crucial aspects of pet care include:

  • Regular grooming: Keep your pets clean to avoid attracting flies.
  • Pet feces: Clean up pet waste daily to prevent attracting pests.
  • Debris: Remove any debris or clutter in your pet’s area.

By following these tips, you can create a cleaner environment, preventing robber flies and other pests from becoming a problem.

Health Risks and Concerns

Diseases Carried by Flies

Robber flies might be mistaken for biting flies, but they do not feed on blood and generally do not pose a threat to humans. However, other types of flies, such as the common housefly (Musca domestica), can carry and transmit various germs and diseases. For example:

  • Dysentery causes severe diarrhea and can lead to dehydration.
  • Cholera is a bacterial infection that causes severe watery diarrhea and dehydration.
  • Typhoid fever is another bacterial infection that presents with fever, headache, and abdominal pain.

These diseases are mainly transmitted when flies contaminate food, water, or surfaces with bacteria.

Precautions to Avoid Infections

To protect yourself and your family from infections caused by flies, follow these precautions:

  • Keep food covered and stored properly to prevent fly infestations.
  • Regularly clean and dispose of trash to avoid attracting flies.
  • Reduce moisture around your home, as this can attract flies and promote the growth of larvae.
  • Use insecticides or light traps to keep flies at bay.
  • Install fly screens on windows and doors to prevent flies from entering your home.

By taking these measures, you can minimize the risks associated with flies and maintain a healthy living environment.

Professional Assistance and Treatment

When to Call Pest Control

Sometimes, robber flies become a nuisance, and you may need professional help. Call pest control when:

  • Robber flies are found in large numbers
  • Their presence leads to distress or potential health risks

For example, pest control may help eliminate horseflies, a biting fly often mistaken for robber flies.

Chemical Treatments and Safety

Several insecticides can be used against robber flies. Some popular options are:

  • Pyrethrin: An organic compound derived from chrysanthemum flowers
  • Synthetic pyrethroids: Chemicals that mimic pyrethrin’s insecticidal properties

These treatments may have benefits and drawbacks:

Pros:

  • Effective in controlling robber flies
  • Can be applied on soil, appliances, and drains

Cons:

  • Can be toxic to beneficial insects and other non-target species
  • Prolonged exposure may lead to soil contamination

Flytraps and Ultraviolet Light

An alternative to chemical treatments is using flytraps or ultraviolet (UV) light devices. These methods can help catch and control robber flies without chemicals:

  • Flytraps: Devices that lure and trap flies using attractants like colors or scents
  • UV light devices: Emit ultraviolet light, attracting and zapping flies upon contact

Here’s a comparison of these two methods:

Method Pros Cons
Flytraps Non-toxic May not catch large quantities
Can be used indoors or outdoors May attract beneficial insects
UV light Effective Can be harmful to humans’ eyes
Low maintenance Requires electricity source

Choose the method that suits your needs and environment. Remember to follow safety precautions when using insecticides or UV light devices to control robber flies effectively and responsibly.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

11 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Robber Flies: Effective Methods & Prevention Tips”

  1. As an attorney, I am here to tell you not to worry (not that you were anyway). You cannot violate your own first amendment rights, someone else has to do that for you. Your site is wonderful – can I become a fan on facebook?
    I came here in the first place because I needed to reassure my husband that we do not need to squish our house centipedes and I have the necessary ammunition now. I had previously convinced him that the daddy long legs should be allowed to live in our kitchen because it eats the bugs we don’t want. I’m still trying to convince my 2 year old that dragon flies aren’t scary because they eat mosquitos, but she’s not prone to listening to reason yet.
    Anyway, keep up the good work and as Leah said, don’t let these silly people stop you from doing what must be done!
    Melissa
    Massachusetts

    Reply
    • Thanks for your sweet letter of encouragement Melissa. We weren’t really worried, but we also don’t want a tyrannical reputation since we feel we run a family friendly site. When we cover adult themes, we try to use witty rather than crude terminology. We are happy to hear you are trying to promote tolerance of House Centipedes and other benign but frightening creatures in your household. We would gladly welcome you to become a Facebook friend, but we somehow feel we couldn’t deal with one more internet forum at the moment. It is also without embarrassment that we proudly announce we might well be one of the last remaining Angelinos without a cellular telephone. In the interest of education, Dragonfly is one word. Generally, if “fly” if part of a compound word, the insect is not a true fly, like a butterfly or dobsonfly. True flies have two distinct words to the common name, like Robber Fly or Crane Fly.

      Reply
  2. People mistake ovipositors for stingers so often it might be worthwhile to point out that the stingers of bees and wasps evolved from ovipositors, which is why, incidentally, male insects don’t have stingers.

    Reply
    • Hi Jim,
      Thank you for providing this information for this posting. We have that information posted elsewhere on our web site, but it is impossible for us to include every bit of information in every posting. We really appreciate you comment.

      Reply
  3. Don’t you wish that were true? Bee colonies typically have one female, the queen. The females mate then go and start their own nest elsewhere when they reach maturity. The male drones and soldiers are the ones which have stingers as the females have no use for one where they will be spending their entire time inside of the nest laying eggs. The same goes for ants and many other insects.

    Reply
  4. Excellent! I think your response to everyone is factual information about the smaller world of bugs that we share the planet with, great job!
    You REALLY should get on Facebook!

    Reply
  5. Excellent! I think your response to everyone is factual information about the smaller world of bugs that we share the planet with, great job!
    You REALLY should get on Facebook!

    Reply
  6. A robber fly just got inside my house and it’s terrifying. Now it has just moved place and we can’t see it anymore. How would be the best way to get it out of the house without killing it?

    Reply
  7. Darrly,

    Sorry to tell you this but you are 100% wrong. You see in the insect worlds it is the female that have weapons or cause harm, such as mosquitoes, bees, wasps, etc and the males are completely harmless that also include bees, wasps and so on. Male bees have no stingers what so ever…since after they mate and fulfilled that role they are distant to die. The female bees are the worker bees and they have stingers as they go outside and pollinate from flower to flower and they need a form of protection. At birth there will be two queen bees that will fight to the death..the one that survives the battle take her leadership to the colony and send a special hormone that prevent other female bees from making babies as ONLY her is the queen and only HER that will make the colony and only HER will make babies. If any of the female work bees get cut laying her own egg…it will be send to destruction immediately (her eggs) and the the bee that laid it herself will be executed.

    In all insect worlds it is the female with the singer and not the male. In the insect world it is the female mosquito that transmit diseases and suck blood and not the male and in the bird kingdom it is a matriarchal world and not a patriarchal world…which is why all male birds are either super beautiful or have to dance and do things to convince the female bird to mate with him. Look at the rooster. He is beautiful. The chicken is boring. The list goes on.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for catching that we never commented or corrected this comment. You are absolutely correct and your comment is greatly appreciated.

      Reply

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