Red Footed Cannibalfly

Is this a hornet of some sort?
Location: on the coast of NC
July 20, 2011 8:51 pm
Hi. I was just wanting to find out what kind of bug this is and if it stings. It sure is big and looks mean so I am on the internet trying to figure it out. Can you help me? Thanks.
Signature: Kim

Red Footed Cannibalfly

Hi Kim,
You have encountered a Giant Robber Fly in the genus,
Promachus, and we are nearly certain it is a Red Footed Cannibalfly or Bee Panther, Promachus rufipes based on photos posted to BugGuide.  These adroit hunters prey upon large flying insects like bees and wasps.

5 thoughts on “Red Footed Cannibalfly”

  1. When I first saw robber flies in Turkey I was very wary. I’d never seen a fly that size. Then I saw one fly up and catch one of the smaller biting flies out of the air and I decided they were my friends after all.

  2. True story: so I’m out in my backyard looking for bugs to photograph, when I find this robber fly sitting on a fence rail. I approach with the usual care to get as close as possible, but I am having difficulty because of the summer menace in Western MA known as “DEER FLIES.” The only natural way to keep them off of me (that I’m aware of) is to have my dog by my side because apparently dogs taste better to deer flies — anyway I wasn’t subjecting Molly to that torture, so they are distracting me, buzzing around my head when the robber fly takes off right for me. I first thought I was annoying it and had provoked a warning buzz or something, but then I noticed it had landed not too far from its original parking spot. As I got close again, I saw that it now had lunch: one of the deer flies just buzzing around my head! Talk about my hero! I ended up taking quite a few pictures of it and its prey, which can be tricky because I don’t like to scare off bugs from hard-earned meals (I guess it wasn’t that hard-earned in this case, but still). I thought I had done just that when the robber fly left its prey on the fence, only for it to do another buzz-by and land with another deer fly!

    Thusly, all I can say is, robber flies may not be man’s best friend, but they might be a close second. (They also deserve a nomination for dog’s best friend. 🙂

    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks so much for your first hand observations. Normally we hear that these large Robber Flies prey upon bees and wasps. We would love to post one of your photos. Can you please send it? If you do, include the subject line: “Robber Fly eats Deer Fly”.


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