Where Are Robber Flies Found? Discover Their Unique Habitats

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Robber flies are fascinating insects known for their predatory prowess and widespread distribution. You might wonder where these intriguing creatures can be found. With approximately 7,000 species recognized worldwide and 1,000 native to North America, these flies have adapted to a variety of environments and can be found in many regions around the globe source.

They inhabit diverse habitats, from tropical and subtropical regions to even the edges of the tundra. Robber flies are versatile creatures, making their homes in forested areas, grasslands, deserts, and other varied landscapes source. In your local ecosystem, you may spot these fascinating hunters perching and scanning for prey. Keep an eye out for them, and remember that their presence indicates a healthy balance in the insect world.

Overview of Robber Flies

Robber flies, belonging to the family Asilidae and order Diptera, are predatory insects known for their voracious appetites and skill in capturing other arthropods as prey. These flies have around 7,000 different species spread across various regions, with over 1,000 species found in North America 1. They are medium-sized to large flies, often with bristly or hairy bodies 2.

In terms of appearance, they have an elongate body with patterned or banded segments, and their adult stages can sometimes mimic the look of wasps and bees 3. Robber flies are quite capable hunters, possessing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes that help immobilize and digest their prey 4. Their preferred environments include open habitats, woody edges, and forest glades, where they can bask in the sun and easily spot their next meal 5.

Some common subfamilies in the Asilidae family are Leptogastrinae, Dasypogoninae, Laphriinae, and Asilinae, each with distinct characteristics and behaviors 4. Courtship behavior among robber flies can vary, with some species displaying elaborate rituals to attract mates 4.

Robber flies are often recognized as beneficial insects due to their role in controlling the populations of various other arthropods, such as wasps, bees, dragonflies, grasshoppers, other flies, and some spiders 6. However, they can sometimes prey upon other beneficial insects, making their overall impact on ecosystems a complex one 4.

  • Pros of robber flies:

    • Help maintain a balance between insect populations
    • Reduce the number of harmful pests in various habitats
  • Cons of robber flies:

    • Can prey on other beneficial insects
    • Complex impact on ecosystems

In conclusion, robber flies are fascinating predators that play crucial roles in controlling the populations of other arthropods. Understanding their behavior, habitats, and impact on ecosystems can provide insights into these intriguing assassin flies.

Physical Characteristics

Robber flies have quite a unique appearance that sets them apart from other insects. With approximately 7,000 species spread across the world, their physical traits can vary, but there are some general attributes that you’ll notice. Let’s take a look at some of their key features:

Color: Robber flies come in a range of colors, often blending in with their surroundings. Their hues can range from brown and black to yellow and grey.

Size and abdomen: Their size varies by species, however, they can range from 1/8 of an inch to over 1 inch long. Their abdomen is typically elongated and tapered, giving them a slender appearance.

  • Eyes: They possess large, widely-spaced compound eyes, which grant them excellent vision and make them very efficient hunters.

  • Bristles and long legs: Robber flies have rows of stout bristles on their body, along with long legs equipped with prominent spikes. These characteristics aid them in capturing and securing their prey.

In summary, here’s a brief comparison of their features:

Feature Description
Color Brown, black, yellow, grey
Eyes Large, widely-spaced compound eyes
Size 1/8 inch to over 1 inch long
Abdomen Elongated and tapered
Bristles Stout hairs on the body
Long legs Equipped with prominent spikes

Now that you know more about robber flies’ physical characteristics, you can better appreciate these intriguing insects and their unique adaptations.

Distribution and Habitat

Robber flies can be found across the globe, except for Antarctica. They thrive in a variety of habitats such as open grasslands, gardens, and forest glades. In North America alone, there are over 1,000 species of robber flies.

They enjoy sunlit areas, which means you might spot them in your garden or on low plants, where they can find their prey. States like Florida and various islands provide an optimal environment for these predators due to their warm and subtropical climate.

While inhabiting grassy or soil-based surfaces, they keep a lookout for their prey, which consists of other insects. To provide you with an idea of their prevalence, here’s a brief list of places where robber flies are commonly found:

  • Gardens
  • Open grasslands
  • Forest edges
  • Low plants
  • North America (especially Florida)

Remember, while you may spot robber flies in these locations, they are not out to harm you or be a nuisance. Instead, they play a vital role in controlling insect populations and maintaining a balance within their ecosystem. So, next time you see one in your garden, remember it’s only there to help you by taking care of some unwanted pests.

Prey and Feeding Habits

Robber flies are known for their voracious appetites and their ability to feed on a wide variety of prey. Some of the insects that they commonly consume include:

  • Bees
  • Grasshoppers
  • Other flies
  • Wasps
  • Ants
  • Butterflies
  • Flying insects from the Hymenoptera order
  • Leafhoppers
  • Moths
  • Spiders

These predators are skilled at capturing their prey in mid-air. They usually grab them with their specially adapted legs, then deliver a painful bite using their sharp proboscis.

The bite not only immobilizes their victim, but also injects digestive saliva that liquefies the insides of the prey. After that, the robber fly sucks up the liquid appetizing substance.

Robber flies are considered beneficial insects because they help balance insect populations in various habitats by feeding on both pests and other predators. For instance, they can reduce the number of bees and wasps, which are common stinging insects that can threaten your outdoor activities.

In conclusion, robber flies are fascinating insects that play an important role in the ecosystem, controlling the populations of other flying insects. Their effective hunting techniques and adaptive features make them formidable predators. Remember to give these beneficial insects a safe distance when observing them, as their bite can be painful for humans as well.

Life Cycle

Robber flies go through three primary stages: eggs, larvae, and adults. Let’s explore each stage briefly.

Eggs: Female robber flies lay their eggs in various locations, such as decaying wood or soil. This provides a safe environment for the eggs to hatch and develop into larvae.

Larvae: The larval stage is crucial for development. Robber fly larvae are predators, preying upon other insects like white grubs and beetles. They spend most of their time hidden, ambushing small arthropods.

Some key features of robber fly larvae include:

  • Predatory nature
  • Resemble white grubs
  • Live in soil or decaying wood

Adults: Once the larvae pupate, they transform into adult robber flies. As adults, they continue their predatory lifestyle by attacking insects such as dragonflies, bees, and grasshoppers.

Robber flies belong to the family Asilidae, with various subfamilies classified by experts like Oldroyd and Loew. These subfamilies exhibit slight differences in their life cycles and habitats.

In conclusion, the life cycle of robber flies consists of eggs, larvae, and adults, with each stage playing a vital role in their development and survival. They are known for their predatory nature throughout their life cycle, contributing to the balance of insect populations in their habitats. So, while you enjoy the outdoors, remember the role these fascinating insects play in our ecosystems.

Robber Flies and Ecosystem

Robber flies are a family of predatory insects belonging to the Asilidae family. These beneficial insects play an important role in biological control by feeding on a wide variety of arthropods, including wasps, bees, dragonflies, grasshoppers, other flies, and some spiders.

In gardens, they help protect your plants by feeding on pests like beetles (Coleoptera) and aphids, which can harm your foliage. You may come across these insects hovering around apiaries, as they’re bee mimics and often prey on bees.

Their role as biological control agents helps maintain a healthy balance between insect populations in different habitats. For example:

  • In gardens, they can reduce the number of pests on your plants.
  • In agricultural fields, they can prevent excessive damage to foliage.
  • In forests, they can limit the spread of harmful insects.

Robber flies belong to the Diptera order, along with other fly species like Bombyliidae (bee flies) and Syrphidae (hover flies). They share features with other groups of predatory insects like Neuroptera (lacewings) and some species of beetles.

These insects can be considered beneficial due to their predatory behavior during both their adult and larval stages. According to a study, this unique trait makes them key species in controlling insect populations and maintaining community equilibrium.

However, there might be some downsides to their presence, especially for beekeepers. Robber flies could negatively impact apiaries by preying on their bees, which can lead to a decrease in honey production rate. Moreover, an excessive number of robber flies in an area might cause an imbalance in insect populations, leading to a depression in biodiversity.

In conclusion, robber flies are fascinating insects that actively contribute to maintaining healthy ecosystems by controlling insect populations. While they may pose a threat to apiaries, their overall presence is beneficial to various habitats and the wider ecosystem.

Additional Information

Robber flies display a range of colors, including browns, grays, and blacks. As predatory insects, they often target other arthropods like those from the Lepidoptera and Orthoptera orders. For example, they attack wasps, bees, dragonflies, and grasshoppers. They also consume other flies and some spiders, which might help to maintain a healthy balance in insect populations across various habitats. You can learn more about their diet here.

Robber flies belong to the Brachycera suborder of flies. These insects exhibit distinctive features such as:

  • Medium to large size
  • Bristly or hairy appearance
  • Long, tapered abdomen
  • Humpbacked appearance
  • Spiny legs

As predators, they possess neurotoxic venom to immobilize their prey. It’s important to note that they are also beneficial predators, as they help control pest populations. You can find more information about their anatomy and behavior here.

Comparatively, Neuroptera is a separate order of insects that include lacewings and antlions. Although they share predatory behavior with robber flies, they have distinct differences in physical appearance and preferred habitats.

In conclusion, robber flies showcase various colors and serve as efficient predators, impacting the populations of other arthropods. They do so by targeting a range of insects and using neurotoxic venom to immobilize their prey, making them a fascinating subject of study.

Footnotes

  1. Field Station

  2. Wisconsin Horticulture

  3. Texas A&M University

  4. Asilidae information page 2 3 4

  5. Field Station

  6. Entomology and Nematology Department

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Robber Fly from Greece

 

What am I ?
May 14, 2010
Hello, I spotted this bee type thing on the island of Skiathos in Greece in 2008, I have tried on many occasions to get it identified, I even contacted the Natural History Museum in Athens and they couldn’t help me, it was approx one inch long, and was spotted in the same area as some Honey Bee Hives, close to a monastery. Have you any idea what it is ?
Thank you
Ian Reed .. UK
Skiathos Greece

Robber Fly

Dear Ian,
We are amused that the Natural History Museum in Athens was unable to identify this Robber Fly to at least the family level.  We believe it is a Bee Killer in the genus Mallophora which is described on BugGuide as being:  “Large, fuzzy, bee-mimicking robber flies. Resemble Laphria, another genus of robbers that mimic bumblebees, but is even hairier and has antennae with a very thin terminal final segment, whereas Laphria has thick antennae.
”  It is quite difficult to make out the antennae on your photo.  We have been unable to determine if either genus, Mallophora or Laphria, is represented in Greece, so this Robber Fly may actually be classified in a different genus.  Interestingly, the Dictionary of Greek Mythology website has a webpage devoted to Demeter or Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, that contains this information regarding other titles by which the goddess Demeter might be invoked:  “Mallophora (Μαλλοφόρα). “Wool-bearing.” An epithet as worshipped at Megara, whose inhabitants she was fabled to have taught the use of wool (Pausanias. i. 44).

Correction courtesy of Karl
May 19, 2010
Hi Daniel:  Laphria flava occurs throughout Europe, including Greece. The species is rather variable in appearance but the ‘Insects of Europe” site has three images that look pretty much identical to this one (about a third of the way down the page). Regards. Karl

Letter 2 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Possible Robber Fly?
August 6, 2009
Photos taken today, 8-6-09, of our latest Prehistoric Pet in Coryell County, Central Texas. Is it a Robber Fly? BZZZZT!
It can keep the gigantic Tarantula Hawks company. So nice to have (Huge. Black. Flying.) insects buzzing from tree to tree. Makes a nice change from bird watching. :o)
Ellen
Coryell County, Central Texas, semi arid scrub country with oaks, mesquite, limestone and clay soil

Belzebul Bee Eater
Belzebul Bee Eater

Hi Ellen,
There are several insects with common names that are associated with the devil, like the Devil’s Coach Horse and the Hickory Horned Devil, but few have the distinction that your Robber Fly has.  According to BugGuide, your Mallophora leschenaulti is the Belzebul Bee Eater. Flies have had a long association with Satan in writing and this has been further communicated in numerous Hollywood films as well as foreign films like the Dario Argento classic Suspiria.  If ever a fly’s appearance warranted such an association, it is the huge and hairy Mallophora leschenaulti, though it is worth noting that this frightening predator has no interest in biting humans.  That said, we would not try to carelessly handle a living specimen for fear that the captive might bite out of self defense.  The Belzebul Bee Eater is one of the large hairy Robber Flies in the genus known as Bee Killers, and members of this genus can be distinguished by the thin terminal segment of the antennae.  BugGuide reports that “Eggs of M. leschenaulti laid on upright stems but the larva are soil living. Sometimes concentrated in animal pens with dung and decay or in compost heaps.
”  We would surmise that the larvae do not feed on decaying matter, but that they are predatory and feed upon other insects attracted to this foul environment. BugGuide lists the geographical range of the Belzebul Bee Eater as Texas and Mexico.

Belzebul Bee Eater
Belzebul Bee Eater

Thank you, Daniel. Having a decent sense of self preservation, I kept my distance from our visitor as far as possible, hence the not-quite-in-focus photos. It did not like the yardstick and buzzed around the yard for awhile, kind of like a cargo plane, before alighting again. I shamelessly ran for cover while it was flying. In one photo you can see it eyeing me. Yikes.
I appreciate your speedy and interesting reply!
Sadly, we do not have many bees this year, although we do have some visiting our crepe myrtle trees, which is where the Belzebul Bee Eater was hanging out.
Take care.

Thanks for the follow-up information Ellen.  Though the photo with the yardstick did not make it to our site as it did not have as much detail as the other photos, it did appear that the abdomen of the Belzebul Bee Eater was in contact with the branch.  We wonder, perhaps, if the fly was ovipositing as indicated on BugGuide.

Letter 3 – Red Footed Cannibalfly feeds on Bumble Bee

 

Robber Fly Feeding
Location:  North Middle Tennessee
July 28, 2010 9:38 am
Hi Daniel,
This big guy buzzed by this morning and landed in a nearby bush. I went inside to get the camera, thankfully it was still there when I returned. I thought you might like it for your food chain section. At first I thought it was feeding on a bumblebee but now I believe it may be a ”bee mimic robber fly”, not really sure. I was photographing a couple of robber flies yesterday that looked like this one except this one is maybe twice as large. So maybe this one is the Giant version. Thanks for all you do and have a great day.
Richard

Bee Killer eats Bumble Bee

Hi Richard,
You really are contributing some wonderful images to our website.  It would seem you are well on your way to producing a guide book of insects from your area in Tennessee.  We believe this is a Bee Killer, one of the Giant Robber Flies in the genus
Promachus, based on images posted to BugGuide.  The tiger stripe pattern on the abdomen is an identifying feature.  Also, we are inclined to agree with your first impression that the prey is a Bumble Bee because it appears to have two wings on each side as opposed to a single pair of wings, a characteristic of the bee mimic Flies.

Ed Note: August 2, 2010
Today we identified a Red Footed Cannibalfly, and we realized that we now had a species identification on this beauty:
Promachus rufipes.

Letter 4 – Robber Fly from South Africa

 

Subject: weird scary bug
Location: cape town
January 10, 2017 3:22 am
I keep seeing this weird dinosaure like bug around.
It has a long skinny curved body, unless it’s a sting (I know nothing about insects), and 6 legs.
We never see it flying but, often completely still. Also it’s very big, and tall on its legs.
let me know what you think 🙂
Signature: Sacha

Robber Fly

Dear Sacha,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and though there is not much detail in your image, it does resemble this individual posted to iSpot.  While we would not rule out the possibility of a person being bitten by a Robber Fly, we think that is highly unlikely unless a person tried to handle a Robber Fly.  Predatory Robber Flies generally prey upon flying insects that they catch on the wing.

Letter 5 – Robber Fly from Croatia

 

insect four times larger than a wasp
Location: Dalmatian coast in Croatia
June 22, 2011 2:28 pm
Hi,
I was on holiday in Croatia and took a picture of this huge insect that is eating a wasp.
I would like to know what kind of insect it is?
Thanks in advanced!
Regards
Zrinko Culjak
Signature: Dalmatian insect

Croatian Robber Fly with Prey

Dear Zrinko,
What a magnificent Robber Fly.  Robber Flies are top of the food chain predators and we love that it is eating a wasp.  Some species of Robber Flies are known as Bee Killers and they often prey upon Honey Bees.  The are real marauders around bee hives in the minds of many bee keepers.
We quickly found this matching photo on the New Scientist website.  Alas, the species is not identified.  Seems that posting has produced a lively blog page but I don’t believe the species name of the Robber Fly has been determined.  Anyone care to help?

Letter 6 – Belzebul Bee Killer

 

Subject: Bug found in San Antonio, TX
Location: San Antonio, TX
June 30, 2012 2:34 pm
My girl friend in San Antonio found this lovely specimen in her garden buzzing around today (June 30, 2012). She asked me to find out what it is and sent me some pictures. Any help would be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.
Signature: Georgeanne

Belzebul Bee Killer

Hi Georgeanne,
These photos are wonderful.  This is quite a formidable Robber Fly,
Mallophora leschenaulti, commonly called the Belzebul Bee Killer or Black Bee Killer according to BugGuide, which also notes:  “Remarkably, has been reported to attack and kill hummingbirds.”  These large, robust Robber Flies are easily mistaken for Bumble Bees. 

Belzebul Bee Killer

Thank you, Daniel, for the ID. I will let my pal in Texas know. She will be quite tickled you
like her photos.
Georgeanne

Letter 7 – Yellow Eyed Wasp from South Africa

 

Subject: idenifying an insect
Location: Kimberley, South Africa
February 19, 2014 3:53 am
We saw this bright yellow eyed fly in November near Kimberley, South Africa.
Any idea what it is?
Thanks
Tjeerd de Wit
Pretoria
Signature: t de wit

Sand Wasp or Fly???
Sand Wasp

Hi Tjeerd,
This looks more like a Sand Wasp than a Fly to us.  We may not have time to research this completely before rushing off to work this morning, but we are posting your photo now and we will continue to research this gorgeous creature when we return to our offices.
  Here is a Sand Wasp image from ISpot.  Those orange legs are sure pretty.  Your photo is gorgeous.

Thanks a lot. You remarks took me to this site: http://www.ispot.org.za/node/207535?nav=parent_ob where the same wasp is shown, a Crabronidaea
Many thanks.
Greetings
TdW

Hi again Tjeerd,
And there is a comment with a link to Wikipedia and the indication the genus of this beauty is
Tachysphex.  The Sand Wasp tribe of Bembicini is contained within the family Crabronidae.  We believe the superfamily (if our memory of the endings is correct) Crabronidaea may be an obsolete taxonomy.  Here is the BugGuide taxonomy.

Hello Daniel
Thanks for your help. I notice insects is/are your passion .
Now this wasp knows its place in the hierarchy. So many insects, so many names. Maybe it’s good many many insects have not been discovered yet, your life would be even more complicated.
Greetings
TdW

Letter 8 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Dragonfly???
Location: Southern Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
December 20, 2012 1:01 am
Dear Bugman,
I found this insect that looks like a hybrid of a fly and dragonfly in my backyard, but am unsure if it is a dragonfly as we usually see the everyday green dragonflies in our area at this time of year (early summer).
Signature: Kim

Robber Fly

Hi Kim,
This is a Robber Fly, a predatory true Fly in the family Asilidae.  It is the third image of a Robber Fly from Australia we have posted in the past week, though all are different species.  We will try to determine a species name for you when time permits.

Letter 9 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: What’s this bug
Location: Melbourne victoria Australia
December 4, 2014 3:22 am
Hi there bug man we caught this bug today and have never ever seen anything like it we live in victoria Australia it is summer time here this bug makes an extreme loud buzzing noise I’ve tried doing a Google image search and I’ve found nothing it kinda looks crossed between a few things hopefully you can shed some light on what it is thanks for your time bug man or ladyb 😉
Regards dumb founded buggers
Signature: Beck Shawn and the 3 kids

Robber Fly, we presume
Robber Fly, we presume

Dear Beck Shawn and the 3 kids,
We cannot imagine that this is anything other than a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  This individual looks like the same species as this previous posting of a Robber Fly from Melbourne submitted in December 2012.  It is not uncommon to have seasonal sightings of species of insects as most live no more than a few weeks as adults.  Robber Flies are top of the insect food chain predators that can take other predators, including Yellowjackets and other Wasps, on the wing.  Like other flies, Robber Flies have a single pair of wings, yet having one pair less than most insects seems to have improved rather than to have inhibited their ability to fly.
  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in this identification.

Update:  December 20, 2014
We just received a comment that this is Neoaratus hercules, a large Robber Fly
It is pictured on the Atlas of Living Australia and on Insect Net it is called a Hercules Robber Fly.

Letter 10 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Thought it was Laphria macquarti
Location: San Antonio, TX
April 19, 2011 3:36 pm
I saw the 4/15 post of Laphria macquarti and thought I had a shot of it, too, but this appears to be something different. Photos were taken last August in San Antonio. No yellow third leg, and it doesn’t appear as robust. Couldn’t find anything similar on BugGuide, but it does look like Laphria. He sat still for these portraits, so he wasn’t terribly active. Any ideas?
Signature: Melvis & Laugh

Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear Melvis & Laugh,
This is a magnificent predator.  You are correct that this is not
Laphria macquarti.  The Robber Flies in the genus Laphria are known as the Bee-Like Robber Flies and they can be distinguished from the very similar Bee Killer Robber Flies in the genus Mallophora because the latter have a hairlike terminal segment on the antennae (very evident in your photo) while the former have thick antennae.  We believe you have photographed the Belzebul Bee Eater, Mallophora leschenaulti, which is also known by the less devilish common name Black Bee Killer according to BugguideBugGuide also notes that the Belzebul Bee Eater:  “Remarkably, has been reported to attack and kill hummingbirds.”  There is much interesting information on this Mallophora webpage.

Belzebul Bee Eater

We decided we really needed to post all three of your images.

Belzebul Bee Eater

Letter 11 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Bee Killing Robber Fly
Location: San Antonio TX
September 22, 2011 7:59 pm
I saw this tonight on a Live Oak in San Antonio. A friend of mine already identified it as a Bee Killing Robber Fly, but I wondered, based on your August blog, what genus it is?
I had never seen one before, and it was pretty big – at least one inch in length. It has iridescent blue wings that extend past the abdomen.
Signature: Regards, Curious Cori

Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear Curious Cori,
Your Robber Fly is known by the diabolical common name Belzebul Bee Eater, though Black Bee Killer is another common name for
Mallophora leschenaulti according to BugGuide.

Letter 12 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Subject: Bee killer- Mallophora leschenaulti
Location: New Braunfels, Texas
August 19, 2013 7:23 am
Hey bugman, I thought you might like these photos of a bee killer ( Mallophora leschenaulti) that I came across about a week ago. It was probably the largest robber fly I have ever seen. I posted the pics to bugguide and was given this ID. I hope you enjoy my photos of this impressive insect as much as I enjoy visiting your website multiple times per day!
Signature: Michael

Belzebul Bee Killer
Belzebul Bee Killer

Hi Michael,
One of our favorite reasons for posting photos of
Mallophora leschenaulti is that the common name is the Belzebul Bee Eater.  There is a long history of associating Satan with flies and the person that gave this adept hunter its common name must have found it to be among the most demonic looking of flies.  While we do not endorse demonizing insects unnecessarily, we are amused by the common name nonetheless.  

Letter 13 – Belzebul Bee-Eater

 

Subject: Bee/Wasp?
Location: San Antonio, TX
April 26, 2015 6:41 pm
I cannot for the life of me figure out what this is! please please help!
Signature: Thanks, Hannah Ervin

Belzebul Bee Eater
Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear Hannah,
This is one of the largest and most impressive of the North American Robber Flies in the family Asilidae.  This is a Belzebul Bee-Eater,
Mallophora leschenaulti, which you can verify by comparing your image to this image on BugGuide.

Belzebul Bee-Eater
Belzebul Bee-Eater

THANK YOU SO MUCH! I was looking on bugguide.net all day, but I was looking for a type of bee not a bee killer haha! I appreciate your help very much! God bless!

Letter 14 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Subject: Parasitic fuzzy black bee?
Location: San Antonio, TX
August 27, 2015 1:01 pm
Hello,
I hope this letter finds you well. I was in my back yard yesterday afternoon, in san antonio, TX, when I stumbled across a large, fuzzy, black, winged insect. It looks almost like a bee and had a large wasp under it. I was thinking a parasite of some sort? Thanks for your help!
Signature: – T

Belzebul Bee Eater
Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear T,
We want to begin by correcting your terminology.  A parasite lives in or on the body of a host creature, feeding on blood or other forms of nutrition that the body can offer.  A parasitoid is all of the above, but it also kills the host while feeding.  A predator catches and eats prey, and your image is of a predatory Robber Fly, the Belzebul Bee Eater,
Mallophora leschenaulti, but we are uncertain of the identity of the prey as your image is lacking in critical detail.

Thank you kindly for the clarification.  Are you quite sure that my image depicts the Mallophora leschenaulti?  It is just that I don’t recall seeing the white band across the it’s body.  They look a little different to me.  Thank you again for your time!
-T

We would need a better quality image to be more certain, but as there are only five members of the genus in North America, and since the others have more prominent yellow markings, we gave the identification our best guess.  High resolution, properly focused images from multiple angles are always preferred for identification purposes.

Letter 15 – Belzebul Bee-Eater

 

Subject:  Potential Carpenter Bee Robber Fly
Geographic location of the bug:  Austin, Texas 78757
Date: 08/06/2019
Time: 04:05 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I took pictures of two of these very large black bees/flies this morning. I noticed them when refilling a water saucer in a shady woodland setting. Is this a beneficial creature for my certified wildlife habitat, or should I be worried for wood damage in the area?
How you want your letter signed:  Curious Kat

Belzebul Bee-Eater

Dear Curious Kat,
This is definitely a predatory Robber Fly and not a Bee.  The white “cheeks” and yellow band on the abdomen are good indications this is a Belzebul Bee-Eater,
Mallophora leschenaulti, which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “has been reported to attack and kill hummingbirds” but we suspect that is a very rare occurrence.  In our opinion, though they are known to prey on Bees, the Belzebul Bee-Eater would be a beneficial creature in your certified wildlife habitat as it is a native species.

Belzebul Bee-Eater

Letter 16 – Belzebul Bee Eater attempting to mate

 

Identification please
Hi,
I found 6 or 7 of these ‘bug’s flying around our yard in South Texas ( 20 miles South of San Antonio ) I think they are a Mydas fly but my Wife thinks they are some kind of bee please identify. We think they were attempting to mate. A humming bird flew by and was dwarfed by the size of these ‘ bugs’ . The images attached are compressed if needed I can send full size files. Weather 85 degrees, South east wind approx 5 Mph. Time 10:09 AM. Many thanks in advance
Nigel & Veronica Hutchings

Hi Nigel and Veronica,
Thank you so much for including the wind speed and direction. We don’t know what to do with that information, but we are tremendously amused because of the number of requests we receive where “my back yard” constitutes a location. These are Robber Flies, more specifically, Bee Killers in the genus Mallophora. There are five representatives of the genus posted on BugGuide, and your specimen appears to be Mallophora leschenaulti. All the individuals on BugGuide of Mallophora leschenaulti, which was given the common name Belzebul Bee Eater, hailed from Texas and the species is also reported from Mexico. We wonder, perhaps, if Belzebul is a misspelling of Beelzebub or Beelzebul. The outstretched forelegs on the suitor reminds us a bit of Harpo Marx chasing the girls in his signature comedy routine. Your photos are awesome.

Letter 17 – Belzebul Bee Killer

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Texas
August 6, 2017 9:43 am
Just want to know what kind of bug this is
Signature: Chelsea R

Belzebul Bee Killer

Dear Chelsea R,
The Belzebul Bee Killer is one of the most impressive North American Robber Flies.

Letter 18 – Bug of the Month July 2020: Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Subject:  Robber Fly?
Geographic location of the bug:  San Antonio TX
Date: 07/06/2020
Time: 05:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Took a few photos of this beautiful bug in my backyard.
May be a robber fly just hatched.
How you want your letter signed:  Niccodemure

Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear Niccodemure,
Thanks so much for sending in your gorgeous images of a very impressive Belzebul Bee Eater, one of the most magnificent North American Robber Flies. Daniel is running a bit behind this month, but he has selected your submission as the Bug of the Month for July 2020

Belzebul Bee Eater

Letter 19 – Hanging Thief: New York Bee Killer

 

A type of dragonfly?
Location: Claremont, New Hampshire
August 6, 2011 6:12 pm
I found this critter flying around and landing on my flowers. It buzzed like a bee when it was flying around. The first picture is pretty clear. I included the second one, because it shows it from the top, but my apologies for the fogginess. The camera was in airconditioning and I brought it out in hot humid weather! Thanks! I love your website.
Signature: Betty

New York Bee Killer

Dear Betty,
Your insect is a predatory Robber Fly, one of the Hanging Thieves in the genus
Diogmites.  More specifically, it is the New York Bee Killer, Diogmites basalis, and we identified it on BugGuide, where it is described as “‘A large reddish brown species, with golden spots on each side of the abdominal segments’ (Artigas, 1966).”  The referenced publication, The Genus Diogmites (Robber Flies) in the Eastern United States by Jorge N. Artigas, states: “These insects apparently do not fly far from the place where the immature stages are spent, and are often abundant in certain areas. They commonly occur along woodland edges, the shores of streams, and in open fields with low vegetation; in Ohio they seem to prefer clover fields and fields containing blackberry bushes. The seasonal range of the adults varies in different species, from the end of June to the middle of October. The adults are active during the day, and at dusk seek refuge under branches and stones.” 

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly!  Usually I can find what I am looking for on your website, but this one had me stumped.
Thanks again,
Betty

Letter 20 – Mating Bee Killers

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Upland, CA.
July 30, 2013 3:07 pm
Hi!
We found this bug, and it seemed to be one body, with two heads. I have never seen anything like this and was hoping you can tell me what kind of bug it is. My email address is [edited for content], as soon as you figure it out please tell me what it is!!
Thank you!
Signature: Melissa Pleasant

Mating Bee Killers
Mating Bee Killers

Hi Melissa,
These are mating Robber Flies in the genus
Mallophora, commonly called Bee Killers.  The only member of the genus reported in California according to BugGuide is Mallophora fautrix.

Letter 21 – Mating Bee Killers

 

Subject: bug ID request
Location: coopersburg, Pa
August 18, 2016 3:19 pm
Saw these two bugs on my back deck in Coopersburg, Pa. They are about 1 1?2 inches long. Would love to know what they are.
Thank You,
Dan
Signature: banjodan

Mating Giant Robber Flies
Mating Giant Robber Flies

Dear banjodan,
These are mating Giant Robber Flies or Bee Killers in the genus
Promachus, a group that includes the Red Footed Cannibalfly.  We turned to BugGuide to see if we could find a species match for you, and we were surprised to find your image which was submitted to them last week.

Letter 22 – Probably Southern Bee Killer

 

More on the Belzebul Robber Fly
August 20, 2009
These photos were taken today, Aug. 20th. These flies are still in our yard (first spotted on Aug. 6th), still hanging out among the crepe myrtle trees. I never did spot any fly eggs, but they certainly may be on the trees or grass. I think this is one of the robber flies with what appears to be a honeybee as prey. Sorry the photo isn’t very clear. The flies zip away if I get very close with the camera. This one flew away, prey and all. One fly is the gigantic one, and we have several that are smaller but seem to be the same species.
I read with interest the information cited about the robber flies; we don’t have any barnyards near, but we do have a creek bed behind us with tall sedges and grasses, and we are on the edge of town with extensive cow pastures/brushy areas beginning one block away. Love your website!
Ellen
Coryell County, Texas, where it is HOT and we’re in drought conditions

Bee Killer Kills Bee
Bee Killer Kills Bee

Hi Ellen,
There are at least 3 different species of Bee Killers in the genus Mallophora that live in Texas, and though your previous submission was identified by us as a Belzebul Bee Eater, we believe this specimen to be a Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina, based on the coloration of the beard and abdomen as depicted on BugGuide.

Follow0up
Possible Young Belzebul Bee Eater or Something Else?
August 20, 2009
I’m not sure if this is a young Belzebul Bee Eater or not. I’m sending two photos of the original gigantic Belzebul (8-6-09) and a new photo of one of the smaller flies I’m seeing around the yard (8-20-09). The eyes and antennae seem the same, but the smaller insects have yellow hair on the abdomens and not as much black hair on the legs.
I sent some photos earlier today of one of these smaller flies with honeybee prey.
I had a thought about the eggs also. Although we don’t have a compost pile or barnyard, we do have mulch in all of the gardens. We may be hatching Belzebul eggs as well as a myriad of spiders, caterpillars and beetles. 🙂
It’s summertime and the living is easy but it’s very hot. Thanks.
Ellen
Coryell County, Central Texas

Southern Bee Killer
 Bee Killer

Hi Ellen,
This confirms what we wrote back on the earlier email.  We believe this is a Southern Bee Killer.

Update:  August 14, 2014
Based on a brand new submission, we are now doubting that this is a Southern Bee Killer, and we are entertaining the possibility that it is
Mallophora fautrix.

Letter 23 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Australian Robber Fly
Hello,
GREAT site! I am very impressed and have only looked at a fraction of your excellent site! Attached is a photo of a Robber Fly from Central West NSW, Australia you may wish to use on your site. Regards
Stephen

Hi Stephen,
We absolutely love all the wonderful submissions we get from Australia during our northern winter.

Letter 24 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

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.

Letter 25 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Giant Robberfly Foodchain Picture
Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 11:07 PM
HI Guys,
Just had an encounter with the biggest robberfly I’ve ever seen. To give you a sense of scale the perch it has chosen is as thick as a mans index finger. It seemed to have some orange colouration under the wings but I couldn’t get close. This was taken with a telephoto lens in a very shady spot so please excuse picture quality.
Aussietrev
Queensland, Australia

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Hi Trevor,
As always, thank you for another awesome submission to our site. If you identify the species of Robber Fly, please let us know.

ID for that Giant Robberfly
Hi Guys,
That giant robberfly is exactly that apparently, thanks to Eric Fisher at diptera.info for the ID,  the Giant Yellow Robberfly Blepharotes coriarius
Here are two links that show some more detail of the guy, nearly 2 inches long!
http://www.thebegavalley.org.au/1622.html
http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_robbers/LargeRobberFly.htm
regards
aussietrev

Letter 26 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: What The!
Location: Northern New South Wales
November 29, 2012 9:27 pm
Found this inside my house last night, after recovering from a near heart attack I photographed and released it but would love to know what the heck it was as I have searched all australian bug websites and cannot find anything similar. It was approx 6 cm long
Signature: Kind Regards Caroline Thompson

Robber Fly

Hi Caroline,
We are not sure if we will be able to provide you with a species name, but this is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We frequently use the Brisbane Insect website to identify Australian bugs, but we don’t see any species there that look exactly like your individual.

Robber Fly

Letter 27 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: What’s this fly-like insect?
Location: Dubbo, New South Whales, Australia
December 14, 2012 8:31 pm
A friend of mine found this insect in her house. We live in country NSW, Australia. We thought it may have been a horse fly, or cicada or something, but not sure. If you could help identify it, that would be great! 🙂 thanks.
Signature: Tiani

Robber Fly

Hi Tiani,
This is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  The closest match we could locate on the Brisbane Insect Website is the Giant Blue Robber Fly,
Blepharotes spendidissimus, though we cannot make out the distinctive halteres in your photoWe have a photo in our archive that we identified as a Giant Yellow Robber Fly, Blepharotes coriarius, a member of the same genus.

Letter 28 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Bug in Frankston, Victoria Australia
Location: Frankston, Melbourne, Victoria, australia
December 17, 2012 8:13 pm
Hi there,
Hoping you can identify this critter for me. Photo taken in Frankston, Victoria australia.
Signature: Thank you

Robber Fly

The wings on this Robber Fly are amazingly distinctive.  We hope we can provide you with a species name soon.  We were unable to find a match on the Brisbane Insect website.

Trevor responds to our offline identification request
Hi Daniel,
Sorry don’t know that robberfly. Aussie flies are very poorly catalogued and there are hundreds of unnamed species. Possibly if the person submits it to diptera.info or at times I have had good results from posting at davesgarden.com
Only two weeks to that fiscal cliff eh, hope you have your cash stacked away and plenty of beans in the cupboard.
regards,
Trevor

A response from the photographer
Thank You Daniel.
Cheers
JK

Letter 29 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Robber fly
Location: Daintree Rainforest Australia
December 21, 2012 4:58 pm
Dear bugman,
I took this picture two months ago in the Daintree rainforest, Australia. I think it is a robber fly, but I can’t figure out what kind of robber fly.
Can you help me?
Best regards, Paul
Signature: Paul

Robber Fly with Prey

Dear Paul,
Despite the angle of view being very different, your Robber Fly reminds us of this unidentified Robber Fly from Australia we posted several days ago.  The coloration and markings on the legs, the antennae and the wings all look very similar and we believe they may be the same species.  Your side view also shows the shape and length of the legs, but we still can’t be decisive about the identification based on images on the Brisbane Insect website.  It appears that your individual is feeding on a large True Bug.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for your answer, I keep on searching.
Best regards, Paul

Letter 30 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Red Footed Cannibalfly?
Location: Sydney, Australia
November 27, 2013 7:14 pm
Hello,
I believe this is a Red Footed Cannibalfly, after seeing similar pictures on your site! Thank you for your informative pages, I was just so curious to identify this insect when I saw it catch a bee and fly away with it!
I am in Australia, and it is summer – have never seen or heard of these before… are they common to Australia? I was wondering where they typically live/breed (trees? burrows?) and are they harmful to pets at all?
Signature: Evie.

Robber Fly with prey
Robber Fly with prey

Hi Evie,
The Red Footed Cannibalfly is a North American species of Robber Fly, and your individual is a Robber Fly as well, but a different species.  It appears that your large Robber Fly is feeding on a Honey Bee, and bees and wasps are common prey for the large Robber Flies.  Your Robber Fly resembles this
Cerdistus species pictured on the Brisbane Insect website.

Letter 31 – Robber Fly from Kenya

 

Subject: Fly identification
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
December 31, 2013 2:45 pm
We were hoping that somebody in your institution could help us identify this insect we saw at a lodge we were staying at in the Masai Mara. It was a couple of inches long and was the biggest fly we have ever seen!
Please would it be possible for someone to give us an idea of what sort of fly it was? We would really appreciate your help.
Signature: Clara

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Hi Clara,
This appears to be a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, a group of predators that can take large insect prey while on the wing.  We have several other photos of large Robber Flies from Africa in our achives, including this
Proagonistes species from South Africa and this Carpenter Bee Robber Fly, also from South Africa.  The one other possibility that we are considering is that perhaps this is a Bot Fly in the family Oestridae.  The organs at the base of the wings, which we believe are called calypters, are distinctive in Bot Flies and this individual has very developed ones, however the furry legs remind us more of the legs of a Robber Fly.  As an aside, while researching this posting, we learned that the largest fly in Africa is the Rhinoceros Bot Fly, Gyrostigma rhinocerontis, and you can view a photo of it on Natural History Museum.   

Letter 32 – Robber Fly from Australia is probably Giant Blue Robber Fly

 

Subject: Unknown Bug rural new south wales
Location: New South Wales, australia
January 30, 2014 6:43 pm
Hi there
Have been seeing in increase in strange insects over the course of this summer. found this one on our porch this morning. Unable to find anything online that looks close to this little fellow. He made a buzzing sound when he flew and didn’t fly in a straight line, more like a zigzag motion. he seemed curious about me and landed on my shirt before flying off but didn’t display any aggressive behavior.
Its the middle of summer here and extremely hot in a rural setting of new south wales, Australia.
any help would identifying him be appreciated.
Signature: Belinda

Robber Fly: Blepharotes species
Probably Giant Blue Robber Fly

Hi Belinda,
Your email did not include any details regarding the size of this impressive Robber Fly in the genus
Blepharotes.  We wish your photo showed the color of the abdomen.  We have several examples on our site of Blepharotes coriarius, the Giant Yellow Robber Fly.  Max Campbell’s website states:  “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.'”  We wouldn’t want to rule out that it might be Blepharotes splendissimus which has a dark abdomen and is pictured on DKImages.  Did you get a look at the abdomen? 

Update:  December 5, 2015
With a new submission today that we believe is a Giant Blue Robber Fly, we are now confident that this is also the same species. 

Letter 33 – Robber Fly from Indonesia

 

Subject: bug or fly ??
Location: indonesia, south east asia
November 10, 2014 1:45 am
dear bugman, i found a bug @ my home, at the floor, just sit just like a dead bug, but is not dead, i’m wondering what kind of bug it is?? thanks b4.
Signature: meaning??

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

While we are unable to provide you with a species, we are quite certain that this is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Thanks for the answer mr. Daniel, at last i know what kind fly that i’ve found, once again thanks.

Letter 34 – Robber Fly from Turkey

 

Subject: Huge Robberfly
Location: 36°42’57.27″N 29°14’9.57″E
March 13, 2016 9:05 am
Seen in Turkey last summer. Quite high up (maybe 900m) in a pine forest about 20km inland in SW Turkey near Fethiye. The largest robberfly I have ever seen with a body which must be 40mm long at least. Beautiful looking beastie. You can clearly see the left haltere under the wing in this photo. Despite a lot of googling I am no closer to getting a scientific name for it.
Signature: Sean Stevenson

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Dear Sean,
Your request arrived while we were out of the office, traveling with Journalism students to NYC.  Your Robber Fly looks very much like this image taken in Italy that is posted on the Diptera Info forum that is identified as being in one of the genera “
Tolmerus/Machimus sp. It is a female of a group of very hard to id species.”

Yes, that looks about right-thanks very much!

Letter 35 – Robber Fly from Montana

 

Subject: Northwest Montana Bug?
Location: Northwest, Montana
October 16, 2016 8:35 pm
This bug was on the wall at a store, in Northwest Montana, USA. It also seemed somewhat aggressive.
Signature: Danielle Peirce

Robber Fly, possibly genus Stenopogon
Robber Fly, possibly genus Stenopogon

Dear Danielle,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and it greatly resembles this member of the subfamily Stenopogininae that is pictured on BugGuide.  In our opinion, it seems to resemble members of the genus
Stenopogon that are pictured on BugGuide where it states:  “diversity about equally divided between Eurasia and N. America (w. Canada to Costa Rica); in our area, mostly sw. US (the wast majority restricted to CA), with 3 spp. more widely western, ranging into ND-IA-MO-AR.”  The only species that BugGuide reports from Montana is Stenopogon inquinatus, and your individual might be a member of that species when compared to this BugGuide image.  Large Robber Flies are able to take down large winged prey, including Dragonflies, Bees and Wasps, but they are not aggressive towards humans.  With that said, carelessly handling a large Robber Fly, if a person is even able to capture one, might result in a painful bite.  Random Natural Acts has some very nice images of large Robber Flies.

Letter 36 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Is this a wasp?
Location: Canterbury, Sydney, Australia
November 3, 2016 12:58 am
Hello! This “little” guy is currently in our kitchen, we will try to remove him. I’m wondering what this is, my first guess would be wasp but im not sure. I couldn’t get a good view from the side so I’m not sure what the midsection looks like. He’s about an inch from the top of the first leg to the bottom of the stinger (?) We are in the third month of spring, its been warm and windy. We live in the suburbs though plenty of flowers and trees around.
Cheers!
Signature: Spires

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Dear Spires,
This is a Robber Fly, and that is an exceptionally long ovipositor (see BugGuide) and not a stinger.  Large Robber Flies might bite if carelessly handled, but though they are predators, they are not aggressive toward humans.  We could not find a visual match on the Brisbane Insect site.

Letter 37 – Robber Fly from Mexico

 

Subject: Strange Wasp?
Location: Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
June 25, 2017 6:03 am
Hi Bugman!
Earlier today I found this big wasp that got in my window somehow, and I’d like some help identifying it since I couldn’t figure out what type of wasp it was, or if it’s even a wasp! I’ve never seen a bug with an abdomen shaped like that.
Signature: Sebastian

Robber Fly

Dear Sebastian,
This is not a wasp.  It is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  It might be a Bee Killer in the genus
Promachus which is represented on BugGuide.

Letter 38 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject:  Weird insect : cross between cicada and spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Sydney
Date: 10/11/2017
Time: 06:15 PM EDT
We found this in our backyard. Could you help me identify this insect? And if it is harmful to my kids?
How you want your letter signed:  Dida

Robber Fly

Dear Dida,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and members of the family are not aggressive toward humans, however, we would not try to handle one at the risk of being bitten.  Your individual looks similar to this individual posted to Australian Geographic.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your quick respond! 🙂 we are new to Australia, and constantly see ‘new’ insect species. As Australia is known for venomous animal kingdom, we try to keep our kids from harm. Thanks again!
Cheers!
Dida

Letter 39 – Robber Fly from Malaysia

 

I think it’s a Robber Fly…
Hi Bugman!
Happy Holidays!
I think this is a Robber Fly (Family Asilidae); but, I’m not sure what the species is – can you help? I took the photograph this morning, here in Penang, Malaysia. The predator had its proboscis inserted into the unlucky prey and wasn’t all that concerned about me taking its photograph, although it moved three times during the photo session, LOLOL! Any help is appreciated.
Regards,
Nawfal
Nawfal Nur Photography

Hi Nawfal,
Yes, this is a Robber Fly, but we cannot help with an exact species as we are not familiar with Asian species. Even North American species are difficult to distinguish from one another without careful anatomical examination that is just not possible with a photograph, even a photograph as wonderful as yours.

Letter 40 – Carpenter Bee Robber Fly from Tanzania

 

Pictures of Red velvet mite, Nigeria +Unknown black winged creature, Ifakara, Tanzania
Hi there, just found out what these bug are through your website. Thought you might like even more pictures… We’ve encountered them in Nigeria, please feel free to use them. I also attached picture of some black, flying create, found in ifakar valley, Tanzania. If you like I have more pictures of bugs from Africa. Best regards,
Robert Sirre

Hi Robert,
Since you have already identified your Velvet Mites, we have turned our attentions to your spectacular Robber Fly. We don’t know what species it is, but it is sure one impressive specimen. Robber Flies are in the family Asilidae. Robber Flies that resemble your specimen that live in North America prey on bees and wasps and other flying insects.

Update from Karl
February 18, 2011
Karl supplies some information
Re: Robber Fly from the Congo – February 11, 2011
Hi Daniel and David:
I believe that your spectacular Robber Fly belongs to the genus Hyperechia. Members of this genus mimic the large Carpenter Bees in the genus Xylocopa and the larvae feed on the bee larvae. It is thought that the Robber Fly disguise enables them to get close enough to lay their eggs inside the bee’s nesting burrows. There are a number of African species but based on a key to the genus Hyperechia (in Oldroyd 1970. Studies of African Asilidae (Diptera) i. Asilidae of the Congo basin) this one is likely H. floccose. I think this genus has appeared on WTB? at least once before, in a posting by Robert (danielj), Unknown Robber Fly from Tanzania, August 16, 2008. Robert’s Robber Fly looks like it could be H. marshalli, or perhaps H. bifasciata. Regards.  Karl

Letter 41 – Robber Fly from Italy

 

Unidentified insect found in Umbria, central Italy.
August 6, 2009
Bug was on an 8 cm plank in Umbria Italy. `no-one in the area has seen one like it before. See attached pictures. Although the pictures have the title spider 1 and spider 2 it may not be a spider as it appears to have 6 legs
Ruth
Todi, Umbria, Italy

unknown Robber Fly from Italy
Robber Fly from Italy

Dear Ruth,
This really is a spectacular Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, but we are uncertain of the species.  We have a vague recollection of having identified a very similar looking Robber Fly once, but we haven’t the time right now to research that.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in a species identification.

Update from Karl
Hi Daniel:
It looks like Pogonosoma maroccanum, which occurs in Italy, France, Austria and probably other parts of Europe as well. Regards.
Karl

Letter 42 – Robber Fly from Mexico

 

Huge scary Mosquito like creature
August 12, 2009
Hi there,
We found this critter resting on the floor of our outside terrace. It looks positively dangerous…i had my husband put it in a tupperware for the meantime as it seems a bit risky to leave it flying around. I would say it stands approx 1 inch tall and 2 inches long and its spiky proboscis looks to be around 5mm long…It mostly black with a redish abdomen and a white marking between it’s eyes, its legs and thorax are hairy!…I just can’t get over how chunky it looks.
We live on the coast in Southern Mexico…hope you can identify it!! It’s life is in your hands!
Jenny
Zihuatanejo MEX

Robber Fly from Mexico:  Archilestris magnificus
Robber Fly from Mexico: Archilestris magnificus

Hi Jenny,
We hope we are not too late to save the life of this majestic Robber Fly, Archilestris magnificus.  Robber Flies, though fierce predators, do not attack humans.  We would not go so far as to say that they will never bite, as they are capable of biting, and if carelessly handled, a Robber Fly might be inclined to bite out of self preservation.
We received our first submission of this species last summer, and that image was also posted to BugGuide where it made quite a stir.  The species is now reported with some degree of frequency from Arizona.

Letter 43 – Robber Fly from Indonesia

 

What’s the bug
Location: Indonesia
January 22, 2011 11:49 pm
I found this bug near my hometown in Central Java Province of Indonesia.
Signature: Angela Dwi Pangestika

Robber Fly

Dear Angela,
That is sure one beautiful Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  Robber Flies are predators that capture winged prey while in flight.  They are very capable hunters.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your reply.
Best Regards,
Angela Dwi Pangestika (Inge)

Letter 44 – Mydas Fly from Costa Rica

 

Subject: unknown giant 1” by 2”wing span fly costa 2001
Location: costa rica
February 12, 2011 6:00 pm
I had this guy in my collection since march 2001 i think its from costa rica ,Iam an avide entomologist and photographer of insects .I rasie and realise silkmoths from the us aswell but for the life of me i cant find this guy or girl giant fly. looks to be simaliar to a robber fly but its huge and a single pair of wings ,I hope you dont consider this carnage
Signature: ryan

Mydas Fly Specimen

Hi Ryan,
We posted a photo of a Robber Fly from Arizona a few years ago and we never properly identified it, however, it looks very similar to your specimen.  While we do not consider your collection to be carnage, we wish you had taken better care of this magnificent creature that probably looked much more impressive while it was alive and trying to capture prey.  We are posting both of your images because the overexposed image shows details that are absent in the darker shot.

Mydas Fly Specimen

Correction From A Facebook Post
Hi Gad,
Eric Eaton commented on WhatsThatBug.com’s post.
Eric wrote: “Not a robber fly but a “mydas fly,” family Mydidae. Very cool just the same!”
See the comment thread
Reply to this email to comment on this post.
Thanks,
The Facebook Team

The Bugman Replied
Thanks Eric.  We looked on BugGuide for Mydas Flies, but nothing came close to this coloration.  Do you suppose they mimic Tarantula Hawks?

Eric wrote: “No question it mimics a Pepsis wasp! You can’t be easily faulted, the head of this specimen looks a bit mangled….”

Letter 45 – Robber Fly from the Congo

 

Flying spider from the congo?
Location: Congo
February 11, 2011 3:41 pm
My friend who is in the Congo took this picture this week. Here’s her description:
Saw the most amazing and bizarre bug a few days ago. No one seems to have a clue what it is. Anyone out there feel like finding the answer? It was about 1.5-2 inches, flies like a bumble bee, looks like part fly, part tarantula, part exotic, part scary.
Signature: David Guralnick

Robber Fly

Dear David,
This fantastic creature is a Robber Fly, but we are uncertain of the species.  We don’t believe there is much online information to help identify this Robber Fly.  Robber Flies are predators and this individual looks very much like some North American Robber Flies in the genus
Laphria, the Bee-Like Robber Flies.  You can see some North American examples on BugGuide.

Cool, thank you for your response.  Is it strange that, considering how many different types of Robber Flies there are, that one from North America would look so much like one in Africa?
David Guralnick

Karl supplies some information
Re: Robber Fly from the Congo – February 11, 2011
Hi Daniel and David:
I believe that your spectacular Robber Fly belongs to the genus Hyperechia. Members of this genus mimic the large Carpenter Bees in the genus Xylocopa and the larvae feed on the bee larvae. It is thought that the Robber Fly disguise enables them to get close enough to lay their eggs inside the bee’s nesting burrows. There are a number of African species but based on a key to the genus Hyperechia (in Oldroyd 1970. Studies of African Asilidae (Diptera) i. Asilidae of the Congo basin) this one is likely H. floccose. I think this genus has appeared on WTB? at least once before, in a posting by Robert (danielj), Unknown Robber Fly from Tanzania, August 16, 2008. Robert’s Robber Fly looks like it could be H. marshalli, or perhaps H. bifasciata. Regards.  Karl

Letter 46 – Unknown Robber Fly from Canada

 

Help with bug I.D., please
Location: Quebec, Canada
July 29, 2011 12:54 pm
This little fellow joined me on my lounger as I was enjoying the beach. Would you be able to tell me what it is?
Signature: buggy-eyed

Unknown Robber Fly

Dear buggy-eyed,
Can you please provide us with an approximate size since “little” is quite relative.  At first, upon viewing the head on view, we were convinced this was a Hanging Thief, a species of Robber Fly in the genus
Diogmites, however, upon seeing the view from the rear, we have our doubts.  This Robber Fly most closely resembles a species in the genus Saropogon, however, BugGuide only has sightings in the Southwest, and we cannot locate any information if that species is found in Canada.  You can compare your fly with images posted on BugGuide.  Here is the online key to the genus Saropogon, but alas, ranges of different species are not included.  We will contact Eric Eaton for his opinion, and we might try to elicit assistance from other experts, Dr Robert Cannings and Eric Fisher.

Unknown Robber Fly

Thank you for your help. This robber fly was about 1-1.5″ long. It does look like the Saropogon luteus.
Laura

Dr. Robert Cannings responds
September 22, 2011
Hi Daniel:
Sorry for the long, long delay. I think this is Diogmites basalis, the only Diogmites that occurs in Canada, as far as I know. As you suggest, no Saropogon species comes close to Canada, especially in the East.
Regards,
Rob

Letter 47 – Robber Fly from Finland

 

Subject: Really weird scary fly(?)
Location: In East Finland, close to the border to Russia
July 14, 2012 8:32 am
Hi, I found this kind of a bug yesterday from this one pole outside, I first thought that it was some kind of a big moth but when I went to look at it closely I was really shocked of what it really was… And today I found two of them in the same pole. So do you have any idea what it is? It’s about 3-4 centimeters tall, and it seems to eat other insects as in the last picture one of them is eating a ladybug.
I tried searching it from books but I couldn’t find anything that would have even looked like it. In the internet again I found pictures of these ”robber flies” and some of the species remind me of this bug. So could this be some species of the robber fly?
I would also like to know that is it possible that it bites humen? My dad was quite sure that it would bite me if I went there but it looked more like the bug tried to mind its own business and be in peace when I went too close.
Hope to get answers to my questions soon.
With love, Heidi.
Signature: Insert-cool-sign-here?

Robber Fly

Hello Heidi,
You are correct that this is a Robber Fly, but we are not familiar with European species and we cannot at the moment provide a genus or species.  We have not heard of anyone being bitten by a Robber Fly and they are not aggressive toward humans, but they are predators with piercing mouthparts.  It is entirely possible if one carelessly handled a Robber Fly that a bite might occur.

Thank you for answering my questions, I’m very happy to know about the fly. I’m very curious about it, so I will try to find out more information about it. I was happily surprised that I was able to tell that it was a robber fly, it should now be easier for me to try to find out more about it.
Thank you again, and keep on the good work!
From: Heidi (Finland)

Letter 48 – Robber Fly from South Africa

 

Subject: wat is this
Location: St Lucia, South Africa
December 28, 2012 3:30 pm
I dont know what this is, please help
Signature: any

Robber Fly

Dear any,
This is really a spectacular looking Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We attempted to find a species identification and we found a matching photo of a mounted specimen on Beetles in the Bush that is identified as
Proagonistes praeceps, but alas, we have not been able to verify that identification elsewhere.  That specimen is from Natal, South Africa.  Beetles in the Bush provides contradictory information, calling it first a Hymenopteran and then a Robber Fly.  Diptera.info also has a photo of a mounted specimen and provides this information:  “Proagonistes sp., a large Laphriine asilid from East Africa or Madagascar (Andrenosomatini – related to Andrenosoma, Pogonosoma, etc.).”  This might be the only photograph online of a living specimen.  Can you provide any additional information on where it was sighted?

Update:  December 31, 2013
Upon researching a new image of an African Robber Fly that we just received, we discovered a recent posting on this genus on Ecology Picture of the Week.

Letter 49 – Unknown Robber Fly from South Africa

 

Subject: what is this bug?
Location: St Lucia, Kwazulu Natal, East Coast, South Africa
December 31, 2012 12:36 pm
I found this on a walk through a butterfly santuary
Signature: any

Unknown Robber Fly

Dear any,
You submitted two nearly identical emails, and on the first you stated:  “I found it inside a butterfly dome.”  Between your two emails, we are concluding that this was an enclosed structure with butterflies, in which case this unknown Robber Fly might present a bit of a problem.  Robber Flies are predators that take prey on the wing, and we suspect this individual might be preying upon butterflies in the enclosure.  We haven’t been able to identify which species of Robber Fly this is, but hopefully we will eventually be able to provide a species.

Letter 50 – Robber Fly from Burundi

 

Subject: Is it a bee?

Location: Bujumbura, Burundi, East Africa
February 23, 2013 3:16 pm
Hello,
I wonder if you could help me in identifying the following bug – it was really big – perhaps two centimetres long, and when I first saw it it was flying, and out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was a beetle… at closer inspection, though it clearly wasn’t. It has dark wings, and it’s very sturdy indeed. Anyway, I managed to get this picture of it once it landed.
It was in Burundi, on the north coast of lake tanganyika, just over the border from tanzania.
I saw it about midday, and I could see its head swivelling from side to side as it looked around.
Would be fascinated to know what it is. Couldn’t believe how big it was!
Thanks
Signature: Rob

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Hi Rob,
This is one impressive Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We quickly found a matching photo on The Featured Creature where it is identified as being in the genus
Hyperechia.  We found other photos on GorillaCD, the official site of the Virunga National Park and a followup provided this information:  “I wrote to two guys at the Zoology Dept of University of Cape Town. One of them, Mike Picker, wrote a book on insects. Here’s what he said: ‘It’s a robberfly, probably genus Hyperechia. The diff. species of Hyperechia each mimic a different species of carpenter bee. The adult flies feed on carpenter bees and wasps, and the larvae also live in holes in wood with the carpenter bee larvae, on which they feed. There are other very large robberflies that mimic spider wasps.'”  A similar looking individual posted to FlickR is identified as Hyperechia nigrita.

Letter 51 – Robber Fly from Botswana

 

Subject: Identification
Location: Ghanzi, Botswana, Africa
May 20, 2014 5:19 am
Good day,
I wish to inquire on the name of this insect.
Regards
Alan
Signature: This bug is…

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Dear Alan,
This impressive predator is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  Many large Robber Flies mimic bees, and this individual appears to be a good bee mimic.  Large Robber Flies are able to prey upon hornets and wasps and other large flying insects, and they are very adept at taking prey on the wing.  We will attempt to identify your Robber Fly to the species level.  We located a very similar looking Robber Fly on iSpot, but it is not identified.

Letter 52 – Robber Fly from Cyprus

 

Subject: Dragonfly…?
Location: North Cyprus
May 25, 2014 2:44 am
Hi, Guys,
I wonder if you would help me to identify this beastie, which I found munching on a fly on my bougainvillea this morning (25 May). I’ve spent hours searching through the internet, but have failed to identify what I assume is some kind of dragonfly..? I live in Northern Cyprus, in an area bounded by sea on one side and rural maquis, and farmland on the other. I’ve not seen one in the garden before, and whilst I have a pool, this is stringently patrolled by a very territorial ruddy darter. Any help would be much appreciated!
Signature: Jane

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Hi Jane,
This is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and like the unrelated Dragonfly, it is an adept hunter capable of taking large prey on the wing.  Your individual looks very similar to this
Promachus species sighted on Cyprus that is posted to Nature Wonders.

Letter 53 – Robber Fly: Efferia albibarbis

 

Subject: Um, super cool
Location: Las Vegas, nv
July 14, 2016 1:34 pm
What the heck is this guy? He’s just chilling on my patio. I got really close to him, he’s fearless but non aggressive.
Signature: Las Vegas

Robber Fly:  Efferia albibarbis
Robber Fly: Efferia albibarbis

We believe we have correctly identified your Robber Fly as a male Efferia albibarbis based on images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 54 – Robber Fly from Chile

 

Subject:  Horsefly or Drone?
Geographic location of the bug:  Chile central
Date: 01/06/2018
Time: 06:14 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This little fellow was spotted on a tree. Ive never seen this kind before in this region, we have gray horse flies and Scapia Lata in the south.  Seeing it from distance it looked like a queen bee or drone (because of the size), a “bumblebee male” someone suggested, but I believe is a smartly bee-colored horsefly. Can you identify the bug ?
How you want your letter signed:  Mr.

Robber Fly

Dear Mr.,
This is one impressive looking female, predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We were unable to locate any Chilean individuals that resemble your submission, but it does remind us of the North American Bee Killers.  Large Robber Flies like this one often take large winged prey, including wasps and bees, on the wing.

Thank you very much!!! Your identification has been confirmed by a local entomologist, this specimen corresponds to Obelophorus landbecki species, apparently a stealthy hunter from the arid Chilean central zone.

Thanks so much for writing back with a species identification.  We did locate an image on the Pierre.Comte.Over blog as well as an image on Insectos de Chile, and in both instances they are images of mounted specimens.  We could not find any images online of living specimens, which makes the posting of your contribution to our site unique.

Letter 55 – Robber Fly from California

 

Subject:  What is it?
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern California
Date: 08/22/2018
Time: 01:10 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, my sister sent me these photos of what looks like a furry dragonfly.  I did a bit of research and found that it looks similar to a red footed cannibalfly…. what do you think?
How you want your letter signed:  Astrid

Robber Fly

Dear Astrid,
This is a large Robber Fly, judging by the ash seed used as scale, but it is not a Red Footed Cannibalfly, an eastern species.  It looks similar to this
Machimus species pictured on the Natural History of Orange County site, but we cannot state for certain that is a correct genus identification.

Letter 56 – Robber Fly from Cambodia

 

Subject:  What this bug name?
Geographic location of the bug:  Cambodia,northern plain
Date: 08/02/2019
Time: 11:23 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I was in jungle trekking for spotting wildlife and found a bug and took some photos but i could not find the specific name, please help
How you want your letter signed:  Bird and nature lover

Thanks you for response. Would this be possible for Hang Thieve or Robber Flies ? i just thinking.
Best Regards,
Hat

Robber Fly

Good Morning Hat AKA Bird and nature lover,
We are happy you were able to identify the magnificent predator in your gorgeous image as a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, but we don’t believe it is a Hanging Thief in the genus
Diogmites.  We tried searching images of Robber Flies from Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia, and we found this FlickR image, but it is only identified to the family level.  It looks similar to Clephydroneura serrula which is figure 7 in an online pdf about Robber Flies from Vietnam on Onychium.  There is also an article in Vietnamese with an image on Vietnam National Museum of Nature site.

Letter 57 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject:  What is this found in clarinda
Geographic location of the bug:  Clarinda victoria
Date: 02/04/2020
Time: 07:33 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  My wife found this at the park. Never seen it before in my life. What on earth is it?
How you want your letter signed:  Mik

Unknown Robber Fly

Dear Mik,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, but we are uncertain of the species.  There are many species pictured on the Brisbane Insect site.

Letter 58 – Unknown Robber Fly from Wisconsin

 

Subject:  Large wasp/mosquito
Geographic location of the bug:  Door County Wisconsin
Date: 07/17/2021
Time: 11:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
I found this large bug that I am very curious about.  Looks like a wasp meets a mosquito.
How you want your letter signed:  Bobbert Duderoni

Unidentified Robber Fly

Dear Bobbert,
This is one magnificent Robber Fly and we are not certain of the species.  It reminds us of individuals in the genus
Saropogon, which is represented on BugGuide, and it also reminds us of members of the Subfamily Stenopogoninae which is also represented on BugGuide.  Perhaps one of our readers more skilled at identifying Diptera will be able to assist in this identification.

Letter 59 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Interesting bee photo!
Hi,
Last year I was mowing the yard, and I saw what appeared to be a huge bee flying towards my face. It turned out to be a bumble bee flying about with a honey bee in it’s mouth. It was flying around, and landed on a bush, to apparently devour the bee. It allowed me to get close enough to snap a couple of pics. Can you tell me if this is normal behavior? Here it is.
Thanks!
Richard Staron
Houston, Texas

Hi Richard,
This is most certainly not normal behavior for a Bumble Bee, but it is perfectly normal for a Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina, a species of Robber Fly.

Letter 60 – Southern Bee Killer

 

bumblebee killing honeybee? queen mating with drone?
I can see that this is obviously a bumblebee (don’t know which species); but I’m surprised to see it firmly attached to what appears to be a honeybee (or a drone?). I’ve sent two different views. Do you have any idea what’s going on here? Thanks for any time you can spare to help me out.
Diane
Chuluota, FL (Central Fl)

Hi Diane,
This is not a Bumblebee. It is a Robber Fly known as a Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina. According to BugGuide it is a: “Large, fuzzy, bee-mimicking robber flies. Resemble Laphria , another genus of robbers that mimic bumblebees, but is even hairier and has antennae with a very thin terminal final segment, whereas Laphria has thick antennae. “

Letter 61 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Is this a bee or fly?
Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 4:53 AM
Nearly everyday I come home from work to find one or two of what look like skinny bumblebees on my front porch clinging to the screens. The porch was just recently screened in and doesn’t have a door yet which is how they are getting on the porch. The bees/flies are pretty docile and easy to catch. I’ve been able to catch them in wads of cloth and then I just open the cloth outside and they fly away. I have a large flowerbed right outside the porch with lots of blooming flowers which is probably what is attracting them in the first place. I see plenty of the regular fat bumblebees in the garden all the time. I live in central florida and this has been going on for about a month now.
Just in case the pictures are not clear enough you can also see them in my photobucket acount, which is as follows.
Kara
central Florida, Citrus county

Bee Killer
Bee Killer

Good Morning Kara,
What a magnificent image of a Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina, a species of Robber Fly that is a very convincing bumblebee mimic. Souther Bee Killers prey on insects, including bees. Its proximity to your flower bed can be explained if that flower bed is frequented by bees. BugGuide also has information on this species.  BugGuide indicates this of the genus:  “Large, fuzzy, bee-mimicking robber flies. Resemble Laphria , another genus of robbers that mimic bumblebees, but is even hairier and has antennae with a very thin terminal final segment, whereas Laphria has thick antennae.”  Your specimen has very thin antennae.

Letter 62 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Subject: Southern Bee Killer
Location: Stevenson, AL.
August 3, 2013 11:13 pm
I saw this guy hang out with his thug friend in my flower garden. Earlier I spotted one attacking one of my Pinevine Swallowtails.
Signature: Amy C.

Southern Bee Killer
Southern Bee Killer

Dear Amy,
The Southern Bee Killer,
Mallophora orcina, is one impressive predator.  These large Robber Flies are adept hunters that take prey on the wing.  We are sorry to hear about your Pipevine Swallowtail.  More information on the Southern Bee Killer can be found on BugGuide.

Letter 63 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Subject: Bug ID
Location: Central Florida
November 9, 2016 12:44 am
I found this bug in Orlando, Florida in the fall. It seemed to be hairy and was mostly black with small touches of yellow on its body. It had large wings.
Signature: Meg

Southern Bee Killer
Southern Bee Killer

Dear Meg,
We feel confident, because of its markings, that your Robber Fly is a Southern Bee Killer,
Mallophora orcina.  This large predator takes large prey, including bees and wasps, by catching them on the wing.

Letter 64 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Subject:  Huge bee
Geographic location of the bug:  North Florida
Date: 09/24/2018
Time: 06:59 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This large bee thing buzzed my position.
How you want your letter signed:  Kurtz

Southern Bee Killer

Dear Kurtz,
This is not a Bee.  It is a Southern Bee Killer,
Mallophora orcina, or another member of the genus, and it is pictured on BugGuide.  It is a predatory Robber Fly that mimics a large Bee and that feeds primarily on Bees and Wasps as well as other large flying insects.  Based on data for BugGuide sightings, this is a late season sighting.

Letter 65 – Southern Bee Killer – Mallophora orcina

 

Is it a bee?
I found this insect late in the evening on my porch. I live north of San Antonio, Texas. It is about an 1 – 1 1/4 inch (body length). It is black with one spot of yellow on its thorax and yellow between and below each eye. The wings are brown. All the legs are furry and the hind legs have furry patches. It looks like a very large bee, but in trying to identify this insect the only thing that even remotely resembles it, is the carpenter bee, but the markings are no where near similar. Could you please help me identify this insect. Thank you!!!!
Jamie Miller

Hi Jamie,
We located your Robber Fly, one of the Bee Hunters, on BugGuide. It is the Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina. Adults feed on honey bees which the descend upon rapidly while the bee is unsuspecting. They sieze the bee by the thorax so the stinger cannot be used. Nice photo.

Letter 66 – Virginia Bee Killer

 

Bee Mimic and Unknown
Hey guys,
I know you are swamped but I had to share a photo I took this month on Skidaway Island, Georgia. I came across this amazing robber fly that appeared to mimic a bee.
Anthony

Hi Anthony,
Based on the yellow facial hair and black abdomen, we are identifying your bee mimic Robber Fly as a Virginia Bee Killer, Laphria virginica.

Letter 67 – Virginia Bee Killer

 

Subject: Some kind of fly?
Location: Lynchburg, VA
May 29, 2013 6:24 pm
Observed this critter in Lynchburg, VA, May 29, about 2:30 pm.
It’s happily devouring something which I think looks a little like a firefly, but not too much of it is left. When I tried to get closer & see whether it has two wings or four, it took off, but I think it’s two. Size: approx 7/8” long.
Some kind of fly?
Signature: Ann Bee Zee

Virginia Bee Killer
Virginia Bee Killer

Dear Ann Bee Zee,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the genus
Laphria, and we believe it is the Virginia Bee Killer, Laphria virginica.  We compared your photo to images on BugGuide.  These impressive insects often take prey on the wing, and they are often seen preying upon bees and wasps.

Letter 68 – Yellow-Bellied Bee Assassin

 

What is it?
Bugman,
I live in near Tucson, Arizona and found this pretty bug in my yard. I would like to know what it is, I have never seen one like it before. Thank you,
Joann

Hi Joann,
This is a Yellow-Bellied Bee Assassin, Apiomerus flaviventris, a species that is associated with Arizona. Handle with care as Assassin Bugs can bite.

Letter 69 – Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin

 

Is this bug dangerous?
July 6, 2010
We found this bug on a sunflower this summer. We have other bugs shaped like it but they are black with a small amount of reddish orange on the tips of their wings or backs (they seem to be flightless). Since this one was colored in this very unusual way we were concerned it could possibly be dangerous, as many insects with these types of color schemes are.
Thanks for your help! Heather in Mesa
Mesa, Arizona (the Sonoran Desert)

Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin

Hi Heather,
The coloration of this Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin,
Apiomerus flaviventris, could well be warning coloration as it will bite, and the bite can be painful.  Usually, such warning coloration is used to ward off predators, and it is a topic to ponder when that warning coloration is sported by a predatory species, like the Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin, since it might also warn prospective prey.  According the the genus information page on BugGuide:  “It pounces on Honey Bees and other pollinating insects. It holds the captive in its powerful legs, thrusts its cutting beak into the victim’s back, injects an immobilizing digestive agent, then sucks out the body juices.

Letter 70 – Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin

 

Subject:  What’s this sunflower loving bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Phoenix, Arizona. USA
Date: 05/21/2018
Time: 10:31 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This 6 legged bug likes sunflowers. Never seen this bug in my entire life. Black, red and yellow.  Any idea what it is?
How you want your letter signed:  Andrea ~

Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin

Dear Andrea,
As soon as we read your submission, we suspected you encountered a Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin,
Apiomerus flaviventris, and sure enough, you had.  Bee Assassins are predatory Assassin Bugs and as their name implies, they favor pollinating insects including Bees, and they frequently wait on blooms like your sunflower for a meal to arrive.  According to BugGuide:  “This species exhibits a high level of polychromatism although in the United States the color pattern is fairly uniform.” 

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Robber Fly from Greece

 

What am I ?
May 14, 2010
Hello, I spotted this bee type thing on the island of Skiathos in Greece in 2008, I have tried on many occasions to get it identified, I even contacted the Natural History Museum in Athens and they couldn’t help me, it was approx one inch long, and was spotted in the same area as some Honey Bee Hives, close to a monastery. Have you any idea what it is ?
Thank you
Ian Reed .. UK
Skiathos Greece

Robber Fly

Dear Ian,
We are amused that the Natural History Museum in Athens was unable to identify this Robber Fly to at least the family level.  We believe it is a Bee Killer in the genus Mallophora which is described on BugGuide as being:  “Large, fuzzy, bee-mimicking robber flies. Resemble Laphria, another genus of robbers that mimic bumblebees, but is even hairier and has antennae with a very thin terminal final segment, whereas Laphria has thick antennae.
”  It is quite difficult to make out the antennae on your photo.  We have been unable to determine if either genus, Mallophora or Laphria, is represented in Greece, so this Robber Fly may actually be classified in a different genus.  Interestingly, the Dictionary of Greek Mythology website has a webpage devoted to Demeter or Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, that contains this information regarding other titles by which the goddess Demeter might be invoked:  “Mallophora (Μαλλοφόρα). “Wool-bearing.” An epithet as worshipped at Megara, whose inhabitants she was fabled to have taught the use of wool (Pausanias. i. 44).

Correction courtesy of Karl
May 19, 2010
Hi Daniel:  Laphria flava occurs throughout Europe, including Greece. The species is rather variable in appearance but the ‘Insects of Europe” site has three images that look pretty much identical to this one (about a third of the way down the page). Regards. Karl

Letter 2 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Possible Robber Fly?
August 6, 2009
Photos taken today, 8-6-09, of our latest Prehistoric Pet in Coryell County, Central Texas. Is it a Robber Fly? BZZZZT!
It can keep the gigantic Tarantula Hawks company. So nice to have (Huge. Black. Flying.) insects buzzing from tree to tree. Makes a nice change from bird watching. :o)
Ellen
Coryell County, Central Texas, semi arid scrub country with oaks, mesquite, limestone and clay soil

Belzebul Bee Eater
Belzebul Bee Eater

Hi Ellen,
There are several insects with common names that are associated with the devil, like the Devil’s Coach Horse and the Hickory Horned Devil, but few have the distinction that your Robber Fly has.  According to BugGuide, your Mallophora leschenaulti is the Belzebul Bee Eater. Flies have had a long association with Satan in writing and this has been further communicated in numerous Hollywood films as well as foreign films like the Dario Argento classic Suspiria.  If ever a fly’s appearance warranted such an association, it is the huge and hairy Mallophora leschenaulti, though it is worth noting that this frightening predator has no interest in biting humans.  That said, we would not try to carelessly handle a living specimen for fear that the captive might bite out of self defense.  The Belzebul Bee Eater is one of the large hairy Robber Flies in the genus known as Bee Killers, and members of this genus can be distinguished by the thin terminal segment of the antennae.  BugGuide reports that “Eggs of M. leschenaulti laid on upright stems but the larva are soil living. Sometimes concentrated in animal pens with dung and decay or in compost heaps.
”  We would surmise that the larvae do not feed on decaying matter, but that they are predatory and feed upon other insects attracted to this foul environment. BugGuide lists the geographical range of the Belzebul Bee Eater as Texas and Mexico.

Belzebul Bee Eater
Belzebul Bee Eater

Thank you, Daniel. Having a decent sense of self preservation, I kept my distance from our visitor as far as possible, hence the not-quite-in-focus photos. It did not like the yardstick and buzzed around the yard for awhile, kind of like a cargo plane, before alighting again. I shamelessly ran for cover while it was flying. In one photo you can see it eyeing me. Yikes.
I appreciate your speedy and interesting reply!
Sadly, we do not have many bees this year, although we do have some visiting our crepe myrtle trees, which is where the Belzebul Bee Eater was hanging out.
Take care.

Thanks for the follow-up information Ellen.  Though the photo with the yardstick did not make it to our site as it did not have as much detail as the other photos, it did appear that the abdomen of the Belzebul Bee Eater was in contact with the branch.  We wonder, perhaps, if the fly was ovipositing as indicated on BugGuide.

Letter 3 – Red Footed Cannibalfly feeds on Bumble Bee

 

Robber Fly Feeding
Location:  North Middle Tennessee
July 28, 2010 9:38 am
Hi Daniel,
This big guy buzzed by this morning and landed in a nearby bush. I went inside to get the camera, thankfully it was still there when I returned. I thought you might like it for your food chain section. At first I thought it was feeding on a bumblebee but now I believe it may be a ”bee mimic robber fly”, not really sure. I was photographing a couple of robber flies yesterday that looked like this one except this one is maybe twice as large. So maybe this one is the Giant version. Thanks for all you do and have a great day.
Richard

Bee Killer eats Bumble Bee

Hi Richard,
You really are contributing some wonderful images to our website.  It would seem you are well on your way to producing a guide book of insects from your area in Tennessee.  We believe this is a Bee Killer, one of the Giant Robber Flies in the genus
Promachus, based on images posted to BugGuide.  The tiger stripe pattern on the abdomen is an identifying feature.  Also, we are inclined to agree with your first impression that the prey is a Bumble Bee because it appears to have two wings on each side as opposed to a single pair of wings, a characteristic of the bee mimic Flies.

Ed Note: August 2, 2010
Today we identified a Red Footed Cannibalfly, and we realized that we now had a species identification on this beauty:
Promachus rufipes.

Letter 4 – Robber Fly from South Africa

 

Subject: weird scary bug
Location: cape town
January 10, 2017 3:22 am
I keep seeing this weird dinosaure like bug around.
It has a long skinny curved body, unless it’s a sting (I know nothing about insects), and 6 legs.
We never see it flying but, often completely still. Also it’s very big, and tall on its legs.
let me know what you think 🙂
Signature: Sacha

Robber Fly

Dear Sacha,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and though there is not much detail in your image, it does resemble this individual posted to iSpot.  While we would not rule out the possibility of a person being bitten by a Robber Fly, we think that is highly unlikely unless a person tried to handle a Robber Fly.  Predatory Robber Flies generally prey upon flying insects that they catch on the wing.

Letter 5 – Robber Fly from Croatia

 

insect four times larger than a wasp
Location: Dalmatian coast in Croatia
June 22, 2011 2:28 pm
Hi,
I was on holiday in Croatia and took a picture of this huge insect that is eating a wasp.
I would like to know what kind of insect it is?
Thanks in advanced!
Regards
Zrinko Culjak
Signature: Dalmatian insect

Croatian Robber Fly with Prey

Dear Zrinko,
What a magnificent Robber Fly.  Robber Flies are top of the food chain predators and we love that it is eating a wasp.  Some species of Robber Flies are known as Bee Killers and they often prey upon Honey Bees.  The are real marauders around bee hives in the minds of many bee keepers.
We quickly found this matching photo on the New Scientist website.  Alas, the species is not identified.  Seems that posting has produced a lively blog page but I don’t believe the species name of the Robber Fly has been determined.  Anyone care to help?

Letter 6 – Belzebul Bee Killer

 

Subject: Bug found in San Antonio, TX
Location: San Antonio, TX
June 30, 2012 2:34 pm
My girl friend in San Antonio found this lovely specimen in her garden buzzing around today (June 30, 2012). She asked me to find out what it is and sent me some pictures. Any help would be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.
Signature: Georgeanne

Belzebul Bee Killer

Hi Georgeanne,
These photos are wonderful.  This is quite a formidable Robber Fly,
Mallophora leschenaulti, commonly called the Belzebul Bee Killer or Black Bee Killer according to BugGuide, which also notes:  “Remarkably, has been reported to attack and kill hummingbirds.”  These large, robust Robber Flies are easily mistaken for Bumble Bees. 

Belzebul Bee Killer

Thank you, Daniel, for the ID. I will let my pal in Texas know. She will be quite tickled you
like her photos.
Georgeanne

Letter 7 – Yellow Eyed Wasp from South Africa

 

Subject: idenifying an insect
Location: Kimberley, South Africa
February 19, 2014 3:53 am
We saw this bright yellow eyed fly in November near Kimberley, South Africa.
Any idea what it is?
Thanks
Tjeerd de Wit
Pretoria
Signature: t de wit

Sand Wasp or Fly???
Sand Wasp

Hi Tjeerd,
This looks more like a Sand Wasp than a Fly to us.  We may not have time to research this completely before rushing off to work this morning, but we are posting your photo now and we will continue to research this gorgeous creature when we return to our offices.
  Here is a Sand Wasp image from ISpot.  Those orange legs are sure pretty.  Your photo is gorgeous.

Thanks a lot. You remarks took me to this site: http://www.ispot.org.za/node/207535?nav=parent_ob where the same wasp is shown, a Crabronidaea
Many thanks.
Greetings
TdW

Hi again Tjeerd,
And there is a comment with a link to Wikipedia and the indication the genus of this beauty is
Tachysphex.  The Sand Wasp tribe of Bembicini is contained within the family Crabronidae.  We believe the superfamily (if our memory of the endings is correct) Crabronidaea may be an obsolete taxonomy.  Here is the BugGuide taxonomy.

Hello Daniel
Thanks for your help. I notice insects is/are your passion .
Now this wasp knows its place in the hierarchy. So many insects, so many names. Maybe it’s good many many insects have not been discovered yet, your life would be even more complicated.
Greetings
TdW

Letter 8 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Dragonfly???
Location: Southern Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
December 20, 2012 1:01 am
Dear Bugman,
I found this insect that looks like a hybrid of a fly and dragonfly in my backyard, but am unsure if it is a dragonfly as we usually see the everyday green dragonflies in our area at this time of year (early summer).
Signature: Kim

Robber Fly

Hi Kim,
This is a Robber Fly, a predatory true Fly in the family Asilidae.  It is the third image of a Robber Fly from Australia we have posted in the past week, though all are different species.  We will try to determine a species name for you when time permits.

Letter 9 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: What’s this bug
Location: Melbourne victoria Australia
December 4, 2014 3:22 am
Hi there bug man we caught this bug today and have never ever seen anything like it we live in victoria Australia it is summer time here this bug makes an extreme loud buzzing noise I’ve tried doing a Google image search and I’ve found nothing it kinda looks crossed between a few things hopefully you can shed some light on what it is thanks for your time bug man or ladyb 😉
Regards dumb founded buggers
Signature: Beck Shawn and the 3 kids

Robber Fly, we presume
Robber Fly, we presume

Dear Beck Shawn and the 3 kids,
We cannot imagine that this is anything other than a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  This individual looks like the same species as this previous posting of a Robber Fly from Melbourne submitted in December 2012.  It is not uncommon to have seasonal sightings of species of insects as most live no more than a few weeks as adults.  Robber Flies are top of the insect food chain predators that can take other predators, including Yellowjackets and other Wasps, on the wing.  Like other flies, Robber Flies have a single pair of wings, yet having one pair less than most insects seems to have improved rather than to have inhibited their ability to fly.
  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in this identification.

Update:  December 20, 2014
We just received a comment that this is Neoaratus hercules, a large Robber Fly
It is pictured on the Atlas of Living Australia and on Insect Net it is called a Hercules Robber Fly.

Letter 10 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Thought it was Laphria macquarti
Location: San Antonio, TX
April 19, 2011 3:36 pm
I saw the 4/15 post of Laphria macquarti and thought I had a shot of it, too, but this appears to be something different. Photos were taken last August in San Antonio. No yellow third leg, and it doesn’t appear as robust. Couldn’t find anything similar on BugGuide, but it does look like Laphria. He sat still for these portraits, so he wasn’t terribly active. Any ideas?
Signature: Melvis & Laugh

Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear Melvis & Laugh,
This is a magnificent predator.  You are correct that this is not
Laphria macquarti.  The Robber Flies in the genus Laphria are known as the Bee-Like Robber Flies and they can be distinguished from the very similar Bee Killer Robber Flies in the genus Mallophora because the latter have a hairlike terminal segment on the antennae (very evident in your photo) while the former have thick antennae.  We believe you have photographed the Belzebul Bee Eater, Mallophora leschenaulti, which is also known by the less devilish common name Black Bee Killer according to BugguideBugGuide also notes that the Belzebul Bee Eater:  “Remarkably, has been reported to attack and kill hummingbirds.”  There is much interesting information on this Mallophora webpage.

Belzebul Bee Eater

We decided we really needed to post all three of your images.

Belzebul Bee Eater

Letter 11 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Bee Killing Robber Fly
Location: San Antonio TX
September 22, 2011 7:59 pm
I saw this tonight on a Live Oak in San Antonio. A friend of mine already identified it as a Bee Killing Robber Fly, but I wondered, based on your August blog, what genus it is?
I had never seen one before, and it was pretty big – at least one inch in length. It has iridescent blue wings that extend past the abdomen.
Signature: Regards, Curious Cori

Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear Curious Cori,
Your Robber Fly is known by the diabolical common name Belzebul Bee Eater, though Black Bee Killer is another common name for
Mallophora leschenaulti according to BugGuide.

Letter 12 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Subject: Bee killer- Mallophora leschenaulti
Location: New Braunfels, Texas
August 19, 2013 7:23 am
Hey bugman, I thought you might like these photos of a bee killer ( Mallophora leschenaulti) that I came across about a week ago. It was probably the largest robber fly I have ever seen. I posted the pics to bugguide and was given this ID. I hope you enjoy my photos of this impressive insect as much as I enjoy visiting your website multiple times per day!
Signature: Michael

Belzebul Bee Killer
Belzebul Bee Killer

Hi Michael,
One of our favorite reasons for posting photos of
Mallophora leschenaulti is that the common name is the Belzebul Bee Eater.  There is a long history of associating Satan with flies and the person that gave this adept hunter its common name must have found it to be among the most demonic looking of flies.  While we do not endorse demonizing insects unnecessarily, we are amused by the common name nonetheless.  

Letter 13 – Belzebul Bee-Eater

 

Subject: Bee/Wasp?
Location: San Antonio, TX
April 26, 2015 6:41 pm
I cannot for the life of me figure out what this is! please please help!
Signature: Thanks, Hannah Ervin

Belzebul Bee Eater
Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear Hannah,
This is one of the largest and most impressive of the North American Robber Flies in the family Asilidae.  This is a Belzebul Bee-Eater,
Mallophora leschenaulti, which you can verify by comparing your image to this image on BugGuide.

Belzebul Bee-Eater
Belzebul Bee-Eater

THANK YOU SO MUCH! I was looking on bugguide.net all day, but I was looking for a type of bee not a bee killer haha! I appreciate your help very much! God bless!

Letter 14 – Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Subject: Parasitic fuzzy black bee?
Location: San Antonio, TX
August 27, 2015 1:01 pm
Hello,
I hope this letter finds you well. I was in my back yard yesterday afternoon, in san antonio, TX, when I stumbled across a large, fuzzy, black, winged insect. It looks almost like a bee and had a large wasp under it. I was thinking a parasite of some sort? Thanks for your help!
Signature: – T

Belzebul Bee Eater
Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear T,
We want to begin by correcting your terminology.  A parasite lives in or on the body of a host creature, feeding on blood or other forms of nutrition that the body can offer.  A parasitoid is all of the above, but it also kills the host while feeding.  A predator catches and eats prey, and your image is of a predatory Robber Fly, the Belzebul Bee Eater,
Mallophora leschenaulti, but we are uncertain of the identity of the prey as your image is lacking in critical detail.

Thank you kindly for the clarification.  Are you quite sure that my image depicts the Mallophora leschenaulti?  It is just that I don’t recall seeing the white band across the it’s body.  They look a little different to me.  Thank you again for your time!
-T

We would need a better quality image to be more certain, but as there are only five members of the genus in North America, and since the others have more prominent yellow markings, we gave the identification our best guess.  High resolution, properly focused images from multiple angles are always preferred for identification purposes.

Letter 15 – Belzebul Bee-Eater

 

Subject:  Potential Carpenter Bee Robber Fly
Geographic location of the bug:  Austin, Texas 78757
Date: 08/06/2019
Time: 04:05 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I took pictures of two of these very large black bees/flies this morning. I noticed them when refilling a water saucer in a shady woodland setting. Is this a beneficial creature for my certified wildlife habitat, or should I be worried for wood damage in the area?
How you want your letter signed:  Curious Kat

Belzebul Bee-Eater

Dear Curious Kat,
This is definitely a predatory Robber Fly and not a Bee.  The white “cheeks” and yellow band on the abdomen are good indications this is a Belzebul Bee-Eater,
Mallophora leschenaulti, which is pictured on BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “has been reported to attack and kill hummingbirds” but we suspect that is a very rare occurrence.  In our opinion, though they are known to prey on Bees, the Belzebul Bee-Eater would be a beneficial creature in your certified wildlife habitat as it is a native species.

Belzebul Bee-Eater

Letter 16 – Belzebul Bee Eater attempting to mate

 

Identification please
Hi,
I found 6 or 7 of these ‘bug’s flying around our yard in South Texas ( 20 miles South of San Antonio ) I think they are a Mydas fly but my Wife thinks they are some kind of bee please identify. We think they were attempting to mate. A humming bird flew by and was dwarfed by the size of these ‘ bugs’ . The images attached are compressed if needed I can send full size files. Weather 85 degrees, South east wind approx 5 Mph. Time 10:09 AM. Many thanks in advance
Nigel & Veronica Hutchings

Hi Nigel and Veronica,
Thank you so much for including the wind speed and direction. We don’t know what to do with that information, but we are tremendously amused because of the number of requests we receive where “my back yard” constitutes a location. These are Robber Flies, more specifically, Bee Killers in the genus Mallophora. There are five representatives of the genus posted on BugGuide, and your specimen appears to be Mallophora leschenaulti. All the individuals on BugGuide of Mallophora leschenaulti, which was given the common name Belzebul Bee Eater, hailed from Texas and the species is also reported from Mexico. We wonder, perhaps, if Belzebul is a misspelling of Beelzebub or Beelzebul. The outstretched forelegs on the suitor reminds us a bit of Harpo Marx chasing the girls in his signature comedy routine. Your photos are awesome.

Letter 17 – Belzebul Bee Killer

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Texas
August 6, 2017 9:43 am
Just want to know what kind of bug this is
Signature: Chelsea R

Belzebul Bee Killer

Dear Chelsea R,
The Belzebul Bee Killer is one of the most impressive North American Robber Flies.

Letter 18 – Bug of the Month July 2020: Belzebul Bee Eater

 

Subject:  Robber Fly?
Geographic location of the bug:  San Antonio TX
Date: 07/06/2020
Time: 05:40 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Took a few photos of this beautiful bug in my backyard.
May be a robber fly just hatched.
How you want your letter signed:  Niccodemure

Belzebul Bee Eater

Dear Niccodemure,
Thanks so much for sending in your gorgeous images of a very impressive Belzebul Bee Eater, one of the most magnificent North American Robber Flies. Daniel is running a bit behind this month, but he has selected your submission as the Bug of the Month for July 2020

Belzebul Bee Eater

Letter 19 – Hanging Thief: New York Bee Killer

 

A type of dragonfly?
Location: Claremont, New Hampshire
August 6, 2011 6:12 pm
I found this critter flying around and landing on my flowers. It buzzed like a bee when it was flying around. The first picture is pretty clear. I included the second one, because it shows it from the top, but my apologies for the fogginess. The camera was in airconditioning and I brought it out in hot humid weather! Thanks! I love your website.
Signature: Betty

New York Bee Killer

Dear Betty,
Your insect is a predatory Robber Fly, one of the Hanging Thieves in the genus
Diogmites.  More specifically, it is the New York Bee Killer, Diogmites basalis, and we identified it on BugGuide, where it is described as “‘A large reddish brown species, with golden spots on each side of the abdominal segments’ (Artigas, 1966).”  The referenced publication, The Genus Diogmites (Robber Flies) in the Eastern United States by Jorge N. Artigas, states: “These insects apparently do not fly far from the place where the immature stages are spent, and are often abundant in certain areas. They commonly occur along woodland edges, the shores of streams, and in open fields with low vegetation; in Ohio they seem to prefer clover fields and fields containing blackberry bushes. The seasonal range of the adults varies in different species, from the end of June to the middle of October. The adults are active during the day, and at dusk seek refuge under branches and stones.” 

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly!  Usually I can find what I am looking for on your website, but this one had me stumped.
Thanks again,
Betty

Letter 20 – Mating Bee Killers

 

Subject: What is this?
Location: Upland, CA.
July 30, 2013 3:07 pm
Hi!
We found this bug, and it seemed to be one body, with two heads. I have never seen anything like this and was hoping you can tell me what kind of bug it is. My email address is [edited for content], as soon as you figure it out please tell me what it is!!
Thank you!
Signature: Melissa Pleasant

Mating Bee Killers
Mating Bee Killers

Hi Melissa,
These are mating Robber Flies in the genus
Mallophora, commonly called Bee Killers.  The only member of the genus reported in California according to BugGuide is Mallophora fautrix.

Letter 21 – Mating Bee Killers

 

Subject: bug ID request
Location: coopersburg, Pa
August 18, 2016 3:19 pm
Saw these two bugs on my back deck in Coopersburg, Pa. They are about 1 1?2 inches long. Would love to know what they are.
Thank You,
Dan
Signature: banjodan

Mating Giant Robber Flies
Mating Giant Robber Flies

Dear banjodan,
These are mating Giant Robber Flies or Bee Killers in the genus
Promachus, a group that includes the Red Footed Cannibalfly.  We turned to BugGuide to see if we could find a species match for you, and we were surprised to find your image which was submitted to them last week.

Letter 22 – Probably Southern Bee Killer

 

More on the Belzebul Robber Fly
August 20, 2009
These photos were taken today, Aug. 20th. These flies are still in our yard (first spotted on Aug. 6th), still hanging out among the crepe myrtle trees. I never did spot any fly eggs, but they certainly may be on the trees or grass. I think this is one of the robber flies with what appears to be a honeybee as prey. Sorry the photo isn’t very clear. The flies zip away if I get very close with the camera. This one flew away, prey and all. One fly is the gigantic one, and we have several that are smaller but seem to be the same species.
I read with interest the information cited about the robber flies; we don’t have any barnyards near, but we do have a creek bed behind us with tall sedges and grasses, and we are on the edge of town with extensive cow pastures/brushy areas beginning one block away. Love your website!
Ellen
Coryell County, Texas, where it is HOT and we’re in drought conditions

Bee Killer Kills Bee
Bee Killer Kills Bee

Hi Ellen,
There are at least 3 different species of Bee Killers in the genus Mallophora that live in Texas, and though your previous submission was identified by us as a Belzebul Bee Eater, we believe this specimen to be a Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina, based on the coloration of the beard and abdomen as depicted on BugGuide.

Follow0up
Possible Young Belzebul Bee Eater or Something Else?
August 20, 2009
I’m not sure if this is a young Belzebul Bee Eater or not. I’m sending two photos of the original gigantic Belzebul (8-6-09) and a new photo of one of the smaller flies I’m seeing around the yard (8-20-09). The eyes and antennae seem the same, but the smaller insects have yellow hair on the abdomens and not as much black hair on the legs.
I sent some photos earlier today of one of these smaller flies with honeybee prey.
I had a thought about the eggs also. Although we don’t have a compost pile or barnyard, we do have mulch in all of the gardens. We may be hatching Belzebul eggs as well as a myriad of spiders, caterpillars and beetles. 🙂
It’s summertime and the living is easy but it’s very hot. Thanks.
Ellen
Coryell County, Central Texas

Southern Bee Killer
 Bee Killer

Hi Ellen,
This confirms what we wrote back on the earlier email.  We believe this is a Southern Bee Killer.

Update:  August 14, 2014
Based on a brand new submission, we are now doubting that this is a Southern Bee Killer, and we are entertaining the possibility that it is
Mallophora fautrix.

Letter 23 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Australian Robber Fly
Hello,
GREAT site! I am very impressed and have only looked at a fraction of your excellent site! Attached is a photo of a Robber Fly from Central West NSW, Australia you may wish to use on your site. Regards
Stephen

Hi Stephen,
We absolutely love all the wonderful submissions we get from Australia during our northern winter.

Letter 24 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

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.

Letter 25 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Giant Robberfly Foodchain Picture
Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 11:07 PM
HI Guys,
Just had an encounter with the biggest robberfly I’ve ever seen. To give you a sense of scale the perch it has chosen is as thick as a mans index finger. It seemed to have some orange colouration under the wings but I couldn’t get close. This was taken with a telephoto lens in a very shady spot so please excuse picture quality.
Aussietrev
Queensland, Australia

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Hi Trevor,
As always, thank you for another awesome submission to our site. If you identify the species of Robber Fly, please let us know.

ID for that Giant Robberfly
Hi Guys,
That giant robberfly is exactly that apparently, thanks to Eric Fisher at diptera.info for the ID,  the Giant Yellow Robberfly Blepharotes coriarius
Here are two links that show some more detail of the guy, nearly 2 inches long!
http://www.thebegavalley.org.au/1622.html
http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_robbers/LargeRobberFly.htm
regards
aussietrev

Letter 26 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: What The!
Location: Northern New South Wales
November 29, 2012 9:27 pm
Found this inside my house last night, after recovering from a near heart attack I photographed and released it but would love to know what the heck it was as I have searched all australian bug websites and cannot find anything similar. It was approx 6 cm long
Signature: Kind Regards Caroline Thompson

Robber Fly

Hi Caroline,
We are not sure if we will be able to provide you with a species name, but this is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We frequently use the Brisbane Insect website to identify Australian bugs, but we don’t see any species there that look exactly like your individual.

Robber Fly

Letter 27 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: What’s this fly-like insect?
Location: Dubbo, New South Whales, Australia
December 14, 2012 8:31 pm
A friend of mine found this insect in her house. We live in country NSW, Australia. We thought it may have been a horse fly, or cicada or something, but not sure. If you could help identify it, that would be great! 🙂 thanks.
Signature: Tiani

Robber Fly

Hi Tiani,
This is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  The closest match we could locate on the Brisbane Insect Website is the Giant Blue Robber Fly,
Blepharotes spendidissimus, though we cannot make out the distinctive halteres in your photoWe have a photo in our archive that we identified as a Giant Yellow Robber Fly, Blepharotes coriarius, a member of the same genus.

Letter 28 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Bug in Frankston, Victoria Australia
Location: Frankston, Melbourne, Victoria, australia
December 17, 2012 8:13 pm
Hi there,
Hoping you can identify this critter for me. Photo taken in Frankston, Victoria australia.
Signature: Thank you

Robber Fly

The wings on this Robber Fly are amazingly distinctive.  We hope we can provide you with a species name soon.  We were unable to find a match on the Brisbane Insect website.

Trevor responds to our offline identification request
Hi Daniel,
Sorry don’t know that robberfly. Aussie flies are very poorly catalogued and there are hundreds of unnamed species. Possibly if the person submits it to diptera.info or at times I have had good results from posting at davesgarden.com
Only two weeks to that fiscal cliff eh, hope you have your cash stacked away and plenty of beans in the cupboard.
regards,
Trevor

A response from the photographer
Thank You Daniel.
Cheers
JK

Letter 29 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Robber fly
Location: Daintree Rainforest Australia
December 21, 2012 4:58 pm
Dear bugman,
I took this picture two months ago in the Daintree rainforest, Australia. I think it is a robber fly, but I can’t figure out what kind of robber fly.
Can you help me?
Best regards, Paul
Signature: Paul

Robber Fly with Prey

Dear Paul,
Despite the angle of view being very different, your Robber Fly reminds us of this unidentified Robber Fly from Australia we posted several days ago.  The coloration and markings on the legs, the antennae and the wings all look very similar and we believe they may be the same species.  Your side view also shows the shape and length of the legs, but we still can’t be decisive about the identification based on images on the Brisbane Insect website.  It appears that your individual is feeding on a large True Bug.

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for your answer, I keep on searching.
Best regards, Paul

Letter 30 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Red Footed Cannibalfly?
Location: Sydney, Australia
November 27, 2013 7:14 pm
Hello,
I believe this is a Red Footed Cannibalfly, after seeing similar pictures on your site! Thank you for your informative pages, I was just so curious to identify this insect when I saw it catch a bee and fly away with it!
I am in Australia, and it is summer – have never seen or heard of these before… are they common to Australia? I was wondering where they typically live/breed (trees? burrows?) and are they harmful to pets at all?
Signature: Evie.

Robber Fly with prey
Robber Fly with prey

Hi Evie,
The Red Footed Cannibalfly is a North American species of Robber Fly, and your individual is a Robber Fly as well, but a different species.  It appears that your large Robber Fly is feeding on a Honey Bee, and bees and wasps are common prey for the large Robber Flies.  Your Robber Fly resembles this
Cerdistus species pictured on the Brisbane Insect website.

Letter 31 – Robber Fly from Kenya

 

Subject: Fly identification
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
December 31, 2013 2:45 pm
We were hoping that somebody in your institution could help us identify this insect we saw at a lodge we were staying at in the Masai Mara. It was a couple of inches long and was the biggest fly we have ever seen!
Please would it be possible for someone to give us an idea of what sort of fly it was? We would really appreciate your help.
Signature: Clara

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Hi Clara,
This appears to be a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, a group of predators that can take large insect prey while on the wing.  We have several other photos of large Robber Flies from Africa in our achives, including this
Proagonistes species from South Africa and this Carpenter Bee Robber Fly, also from South Africa.  The one other possibility that we are considering is that perhaps this is a Bot Fly in the family Oestridae.  The organs at the base of the wings, which we believe are called calypters, are distinctive in Bot Flies and this individual has very developed ones, however the furry legs remind us more of the legs of a Robber Fly.  As an aside, while researching this posting, we learned that the largest fly in Africa is the Rhinoceros Bot Fly, Gyrostigma rhinocerontis, and you can view a photo of it on Natural History Museum.   

Letter 32 – Robber Fly from Australia is probably Giant Blue Robber Fly

 

Subject: Unknown Bug rural new south wales
Location: New South Wales, australia
January 30, 2014 6:43 pm
Hi there
Have been seeing in increase in strange insects over the course of this summer. found this one on our porch this morning. Unable to find anything online that looks close to this little fellow. He made a buzzing sound when he flew and didn’t fly in a straight line, more like a zigzag motion. he seemed curious about me and landed on my shirt before flying off but didn’t display any aggressive behavior.
Its the middle of summer here and extremely hot in a rural setting of new south wales, Australia.
any help would identifying him be appreciated.
Signature: Belinda

Robber Fly: Blepharotes species
Probably Giant Blue Robber Fly

Hi Belinda,
Your email did not include any details regarding the size of this impressive Robber Fly in the genus
Blepharotes.  We wish your photo showed the color of the abdomen.  We have several examples on our site of Blepharotes coriarius, the Giant Yellow Robber Fly.  Max Campbell’s website states:  “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.'”  We wouldn’t want to rule out that it might be Blepharotes splendissimus which has a dark abdomen and is pictured on DKImages.  Did you get a look at the abdomen? 

Update:  December 5, 2015
With a new submission today that we believe is a Giant Blue Robber Fly, we are now confident that this is also the same species. 

Letter 33 – Robber Fly from Indonesia

 

Subject: bug or fly ??
Location: indonesia, south east asia
November 10, 2014 1:45 am
dear bugman, i found a bug @ my home, at the floor, just sit just like a dead bug, but is not dead, i’m wondering what kind of bug it is?? thanks b4.
Signature: meaning??

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

While we are unable to provide you with a species, we are quite certain that this is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Thanks for the answer mr. Daniel, at last i know what kind fly that i’ve found, once again thanks.

Letter 34 – Robber Fly from Turkey

 

Subject: Huge Robberfly
Location: 36°42’57.27″N 29°14’9.57″E
March 13, 2016 9:05 am
Seen in Turkey last summer. Quite high up (maybe 900m) in a pine forest about 20km inland in SW Turkey near Fethiye. The largest robberfly I have ever seen with a body which must be 40mm long at least. Beautiful looking beastie. You can clearly see the left haltere under the wing in this photo. Despite a lot of googling I am no closer to getting a scientific name for it.
Signature: Sean Stevenson

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Dear Sean,
Your request arrived while we were out of the office, traveling with Journalism students to NYC.  Your Robber Fly looks very much like this image taken in Italy that is posted on the Diptera Info forum that is identified as being in one of the genera “
Tolmerus/Machimus sp. It is a female of a group of very hard to id species.”

Yes, that looks about right-thanks very much!

Letter 35 – Robber Fly from Montana

 

Subject: Northwest Montana Bug?
Location: Northwest, Montana
October 16, 2016 8:35 pm
This bug was on the wall at a store, in Northwest Montana, USA. It also seemed somewhat aggressive.
Signature: Danielle Peirce

Robber Fly, possibly genus Stenopogon
Robber Fly, possibly genus Stenopogon

Dear Danielle,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and it greatly resembles this member of the subfamily Stenopogininae that is pictured on BugGuide.  In our opinion, it seems to resemble members of the genus
Stenopogon that are pictured on BugGuide where it states:  “diversity about equally divided between Eurasia and N. America (w. Canada to Costa Rica); in our area, mostly sw. US (the wast majority restricted to CA), with 3 spp. more widely western, ranging into ND-IA-MO-AR.”  The only species that BugGuide reports from Montana is Stenopogon inquinatus, and your individual might be a member of that species when compared to this BugGuide image.  Large Robber Flies are able to take down large winged prey, including Dragonflies, Bees and Wasps, but they are not aggressive towards humans.  With that said, carelessly handling a large Robber Fly, if a person is even able to capture one, might result in a painful bite.  Random Natural Acts has some very nice images of large Robber Flies.

Letter 36 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject: Is this a wasp?
Location: Canterbury, Sydney, Australia
November 3, 2016 12:58 am
Hello! This “little” guy is currently in our kitchen, we will try to remove him. I’m wondering what this is, my first guess would be wasp but im not sure. I couldn’t get a good view from the side so I’m not sure what the midsection looks like. He’s about an inch from the top of the first leg to the bottom of the stinger (?) We are in the third month of spring, its been warm and windy. We live in the suburbs though plenty of flowers and trees around.
Cheers!
Signature: Spires

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Dear Spires,
This is a Robber Fly, and that is an exceptionally long ovipositor (see BugGuide) and not a stinger.  Large Robber Flies might bite if carelessly handled, but though they are predators, they are not aggressive toward humans.  We could not find a visual match on the Brisbane Insect site.

Letter 37 – Robber Fly from Mexico

 

Subject: Strange Wasp?
Location: Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
June 25, 2017 6:03 am
Hi Bugman!
Earlier today I found this big wasp that got in my window somehow, and I’d like some help identifying it since I couldn’t figure out what type of wasp it was, or if it’s even a wasp! I’ve never seen a bug with an abdomen shaped like that.
Signature: Sebastian

Robber Fly

Dear Sebastian,
This is not a wasp.  It is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  It might be a Bee Killer in the genus
Promachus which is represented on BugGuide.

Letter 38 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject:  Weird insect : cross between cicada and spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Sydney
Date: 10/11/2017
Time: 06:15 PM EDT
We found this in our backyard. Could you help me identify this insect? And if it is harmful to my kids?
How you want your letter signed:  Dida

Robber Fly

Dear Dida,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and members of the family are not aggressive toward humans, however, we would not try to handle one at the risk of being bitten.  Your individual looks similar to this individual posted to Australian Geographic.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your quick respond! 🙂 we are new to Australia, and constantly see ‘new’ insect species. As Australia is known for venomous animal kingdom, we try to keep our kids from harm. Thanks again!
Cheers!
Dida

Letter 39 – Robber Fly from Malaysia

 

I think it’s a Robber Fly…
Hi Bugman!
Happy Holidays!
I think this is a Robber Fly (Family Asilidae); but, I’m not sure what the species is – can you help? I took the photograph this morning, here in Penang, Malaysia. The predator had its proboscis inserted into the unlucky prey and wasn’t all that concerned about me taking its photograph, although it moved three times during the photo session, LOLOL! Any help is appreciated.
Regards,
Nawfal
Nawfal Nur Photography

Hi Nawfal,
Yes, this is a Robber Fly, but we cannot help with an exact species as we are not familiar with Asian species. Even North American species are difficult to distinguish from one another without careful anatomical examination that is just not possible with a photograph, even a photograph as wonderful as yours.

Letter 40 – Carpenter Bee Robber Fly from Tanzania

 

Pictures of Red velvet mite, Nigeria +Unknown black winged creature, Ifakara, Tanzania
Hi there, just found out what these bug are through your website. Thought you might like even more pictures… We’ve encountered them in Nigeria, please feel free to use them. I also attached picture of some black, flying create, found in ifakar valley, Tanzania. If you like I have more pictures of bugs from Africa. Best regards,
Robert Sirre

Hi Robert,
Since you have already identified your Velvet Mites, we have turned our attentions to your spectacular Robber Fly. We don’t know what species it is, but it is sure one impressive specimen. Robber Flies are in the family Asilidae. Robber Flies that resemble your specimen that live in North America prey on bees and wasps and other flying insects.

Update from Karl
February 18, 2011
Karl supplies some information
Re: Robber Fly from the Congo – February 11, 2011
Hi Daniel and David:
I believe that your spectacular Robber Fly belongs to the genus Hyperechia. Members of this genus mimic the large Carpenter Bees in the genus Xylocopa and the larvae feed on the bee larvae. It is thought that the Robber Fly disguise enables them to get close enough to lay their eggs inside the bee’s nesting burrows. There are a number of African species but based on a key to the genus Hyperechia (in Oldroyd 1970. Studies of African Asilidae (Diptera) i. Asilidae of the Congo basin) this one is likely H. floccose. I think this genus has appeared on WTB? at least once before, in a posting by Robert (danielj), Unknown Robber Fly from Tanzania, August 16, 2008. Robert’s Robber Fly looks like it could be H. marshalli, or perhaps H. bifasciata. Regards.  Karl

Letter 41 – Robber Fly from Italy

 

Unidentified insect found in Umbria, central Italy.
August 6, 2009
Bug was on an 8 cm plank in Umbria Italy. `no-one in the area has seen one like it before. See attached pictures. Although the pictures have the title spider 1 and spider 2 it may not be a spider as it appears to have 6 legs
Ruth
Todi, Umbria, Italy

unknown Robber Fly from Italy
Robber Fly from Italy

Dear Ruth,
This really is a spectacular Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, but we are uncertain of the species.  We have a vague recollection of having identified a very similar looking Robber Fly once, but we haven’t the time right now to research that.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to assist in a species identification.

Update from Karl
Hi Daniel:
It looks like Pogonosoma maroccanum, which occurs in Italy, France, Austria and probably other parts of Europe as well. Regards.
Karl

Letter 42 – Robber Fly from Mexico

 

Huge scary Mosquito like creature
August 12, 2009
Hi there,
We found this critter resting on the floor of our outside terrace. It looks positively dangerous…i had my husband put it in a tupperware for the meantime as it seems a bit risky to leave it flying around. I would say it stands approx 1 inch tall and 2 inches long and its spiky proboscis looks to be around 5mm long…It mostly black with a redish abdomen and a white marking between it’s eyes, its legs and thorax are hairy!…I just can’t get over how chunky it looks.
We live on the coast in Southern Mexico…hope you can identify it!! It’s life is in your hands!
Jenny
Zihuatanejo MEX

Robber Fly from Mexico:  Archilestris magnificus
Robber Fly from Mexico: Archilestris magnificus

Hi Jenny,
We hope we are not too late to save the life of this majestic Robber Fly, Archilestris magnificus.  Robber Flies, though fierce predators, do not attack humans.  We would not go so far as to say that they will never bite, as they are capable of biting, and if carelessly handled, a Robber Fly might be inclined to bite out of self preservation.
We received our first submission of this species last summer, and that image was also posted to BugGuide where it made quite a stir.  The species is now reported with some degree of frequency from Arizona.

Letter 43 – Robber Fly from Indonesia

 

What’s the bug
Location: Indonesia
January 22, 2011 11:49 pm
I found this bug near my hometown in Central Java Province of Indonesia.
Signature: Angela Dwi Pangestika

Robber Fly

Dear Angela,
That is sure one beautiful Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  Robber Flies are predators that capture winged prey while in flight.  They are very capable hunters.

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your reply.
Best Regards,
Angela Dwi Pangestika (Inge)

Letter 44 – Mydas Fly from Costa Rica

 

Subject: unknown giant 1” by 2”wing span fly costa 2001
Location: costa rica
February 12, 2011 6:00 pm
I had this guy in my collection since march 2001 i think its from costa rica ,Iam an avide entomologist and photographer of insects .I rasie and realise silkmoths from the us aswell but for the life of me i cant find this guy or girl giant fly. looks to be simaliar to a robber fly but its huge and a single pair of wings ,I hope you dont consider this carnage
Signature: ryan

Mydas Fly Specimen

Hi Ryan,
We posted a photo of a Robber Fly from Arizona a few years ago and we never properly identified it, however, it looks very similar to your specimen.  While we do not consider your collection to be carnage, we wish you had taken better care of this magnificent creature that probably looked much more impressive while it was alive and trying to capture prey.  We are posting both of your images because the overexposed image shows details that are absent in the darker shot.

Mydas Fly Specimen

Correction From A Facebook Post
Hi Gad,
Eric Eaton commented on WhatsThatBug.com’s post.
Eric wrote: “Not a robber fly but a “mydas fly,” family Mydidae. Very cool just the same!”
See the comment thread
Reply to this email to comment on this post.
Thanks,
The Facebook Team

The Bugman Replied
Thanks Eric.  We looked on BugGuide for Mydas Flies, but nothing came close to this coloration.  Do you suppose they mimic Tarantula Hawks?

Eric wrote: “No question it mimics a Pepsis wasp! You can’t be easily faulted, the head of this specimen looks a bit mangled….”

Letter 45 – Robber Fly from the Congo

 

Flying spider from the congo?
Location: Congo
February 11, 2011 3:41 pm
My friend who is in the Congo took this picture this week. Here’s her description:
Saw the most amazing and bizarre bug a few days ago. No one seems to have a clue what it is. Anyone out there feel like finding the answer? It was about 1.5-2 inches, flies like a bumble bee, looks like part fly, part tarantula, part exotic, part scary.
Signature: David Guralnick

Robber Fly

Dear David,
This fantastic creature is a Robber Fly, but we are uncertain of the species.  We don’t believe there is much online information to help identify this Robber Fly.  Robber Flies are predators and this individual looks very much like some North American Robber Flies in the genus
Laphria, the Bee-Like Robber Flies.  You can see some North American examples on BugGuide.

Cool, thank you for your response.  Is it strange that, considering how many different types of Robber Flies there are, that one from North America would look so much like one in Africa?
David Guralnick

Karl supplies some information
Re: Robber Fly from the Congo – February 11, 2011
Hi Daniel and David:
I believe that your spectacular Robber Fly belongs to the genus Hyperechia. Members of this genus mimic the large Carpenter Bees in the genus Xylocopa and the larvae feed on the bee larvae. It is thought that the Robber Fly disguise enables them to get close enough to lay their eggs inside the bee’s nesting burrows. There are a number of African species but based on a key to the genus Hyperechia (in Oldroyd 1970. Studies of African Asilidae (Diptera) i. Asilidae of the Congo basin) this one is likely H. floccose. I think this genus has appeared on WTB? at least once before, in a posting by Robert (danielj), Unknown Robber Fly from Tanzania, August 16, 2008. Robert’s Robber Fly looks like it could be H. marshalli, or perhaps H. bifasciata. Regards.  Karl

Letter 46 – Unknown Robber Fly from Canada

 

Help with bug I.D., please
Location: Quebec, Canada
July 29, 2011 12:54 pm
This little fellow joined me on my lounger as I was enjoying the beach. Would you be able to tell me what it is?
Signature: buggy-eyed

Unknown Robber Fly

Dear buggy-eyed,
Can you please provide us with an approximate size since “little” is quite relative.  At first, upon viewing the head on view, we were convinced this was a Hanging Thief, a species of Robber Fly in the genus
Diogmites, however, upon seeing the view from the rear, we have our doubts.  This Robber Fly most closely resembles a species in the genus Saropogon, however, BugGuide only has sightings in the Southwest, and we cannot locate any information if that species is found in Canada.  You can compare your fly with images posted on BugGuide.  Here is the online key to the genus Saropogon, but alas, ranges of different species are not included.  We will contact Eric Eaton for his opinion, and we might try to elicit assistance from other experts, Dr Robert Cannings and Eric Fisher.

Unknown Robber Fly

Thank you for your help. This robber fly was about 1-1.5″ long. It does look like the Saropogon luteus.
Laura

Dr. Robert Cannings responds
September 22, 2011
Hi Daniel:
Sorry for the long, long delay. I think this is Diogmites basalis, the only Diogmites that occurs in Canada, as far as I know. As you suggest, no Saropogon species comes close to Canada, especially in the East.
Regards,
Rob

Letter 47 – Robber Fly from Finland

 

Subject: Really weird scary fly(?)
Location: In East Finland, close to the border to Russia
July 14, 2012 8:32 am
Hi, I found this kind of a bug yesterday from this one pole outside, I first thought that it was some kind of a big moth but when I went to look at it closely I was really shocked of what it really was… And today I found two of them in the same pole. So do you have any idea what it is? It’s about 3-4 centimeters tall, and it seems to eat other insects as in the last picture one of them is eating a ladybug.
I tried searching it from books but I couldn’t find anything that would have even looked like it. In the internet again I found pictures of these ”robber flies” and some of the species remind me of this bug. So could this be some species of the robber fly?
I would also like to know that is it possible that it bites humen? My dad was quite sure that it would bite me if I went there but it looked more like the bug tried to mind its own business and be in peace when I went too close.
Hope to get answers to my questions soon.
With love, Heidi.
Signature: Insert-cool-sign-here?

Robber Fly

Hello Heidi,
You are correct that this is a Robber Fly, but we are not familiar with European species and we cannot at the moment provide a genus or species.  We have not heard of anyone being bitten by a Robber Fly and they are not aggressive toward humans, but they are predators with piercing mouthparts.  It is entirely possible if one carelessly handled a Robber Fly that a bite might occur.

Thank you for answering my questions, I’m very happy to know about the fly. I’m very curious about it, so I will try to find out more information about it. I was happily surprised that I was able to tell that it was a robber fly, it should now be easier for me to try to find out more about it.
Thank you again, and keep on the good work!
From: Heidi (Finland)

Letter 48 – Robber Fly from South Africa

 

Subject: wat is this
Location: St Lucia, South Africa
December 28, 2012 3:30 pm
I dont know what this is, please help
Signature: any

Robber Fly

Dear any,
This is really a spectacular looking Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We attempted to find a species identification and we found a matching photo of a mounted specimen on Beetles in the Bush that is identified as
Proagonistes praeceps, but alas, we have not been able to verify that identification elsewhere.  That specimen is from Natal, South Africa.  Beetles in the Bush provides contradictory information, calling it first a Hymenopteran and then a Robber Fly.  Diptera.info also has a photo of a mounted specimen and provides this information:  “Proagonistes sp., a large Laphriine asilid from East Africa or Madagascar (Andrenosomatini – related to Andrenosoma, Pogonosoma, etc.).”  This might be the only photograph online of a living specimen.  Can you provide any additional information on where it was sighted?

Update:  December 31, 2013
Upon researching a new image of an African Robber Fly that we just received, we discovered a recent posting on this genus on Ecology Picture of the Week.

Letter 49 – Unknown Robber Fly from South Africa

 

Subject: what is this bug?
Location: St Lucia, Kwazulu Natal, East Coast, South Africa
December 31, 2012 12:36 pm
I found this on a walk through a butterfly santuary
Signature: any

Unknown Robber Fly

Dear any,
You submitted two nearly identical emails, and on the first you stated:  “I found it inside a butterfly dome.”  Between your two emails, we are concluding that this was an enclosed structure with butterflies, in which case this unknown Robber Fly might present a bit of a problem.  Robber Flies are predators that take prey on the wing, and we suspect this individual might be preying upon butterflies in the enclosure.  We haven’t been able to identify which species of Robber Fly this is, but hopefully we will eventually be able to provide a species.

Letter 50 – Robber Fly from Burundi

 

Subject: Is it a bee?

Location: Bujumbura, Burundi, East Africa
February 23, 2013 3:16 pm
Hello,
I wonder if you could help me in identifying the following bug – it was really big – perhaps two centimetres long, and when I first saw it it was flying, and out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was a beetle… at closer inspection, though it clearly wasn’t. It has dark wings, and it’s very sturdy indeed. Anyway, I managed to get this picture of it once it landed.
It was in Burundi, on the north coast of lake tanganyika, just over the border from tanzania.
I saw it about midday, and I could see its head swivelling from side to side as it looked around.
Would be fascinated to know what it is. Couldn’t believe how big it was!
Thanks
Signature: Rob

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Hi Rob,
This is one impressive Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We quickly found a matching photo on The Featured Creature where it is identified as being in the genus
Hyperechia.  We found other photos on GorillaCD, the official site of the Virunga National Park and a followup provided this information:  “I wrote to two guys at the Zoology Dept of University of Cape Town. One of them, Mike Picker, wrote a book on insects. Here’s what he said: ‘It’s a robberfly, probably genus Hyperechia. The diff. species of Hyperechia each mimic a different species of carpenter bee. The adult flies feed on carpenter bees and wasps, and the larvae also live in holes in wood with the carpenter bee larvae, on which they feed. There are other very large robberflies that mimic spider wasps.'”  A similar looking individual posted to FlickR is identified as Hyperechia nigrita.

Letter 51 – Robber Fly from Botswana

 

Subject: Identification
Location: Ghanzi, Botswana, Africa
May 20, 2014 5:19 am
Good day,
I wish to inquire on the name of this insect.
Regards
Alan
Signature: This bug is…

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Dear Alan,
This impressive predator is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  Many large Robber Flies mimic bees, and this individual appears to be a good bee mimic.  Large Robber Flies are able to prey upon hornets and wasps and other large flying insects, and they are very adept at taking prey on the wing.  We will attempt to identify your Robber Fly to the species level.  We located a very similar looking Robber Fly on iSpot, but it is not identified.

Letter 52 – Robber Fly from Cyprus

 

Subject: Dragonfly…?
Location: North Cyprus
May 25, 2014 2:44 am
Hi, Guys,
I wonder if you would help me to identify this beastie, which I found munching on a fly on my bougainvillea this morning (25 May). I’ve spent hours searching through the internet, but have failed to identify what I assume is some kind of dragonfly..? I live in Northern Cyprus, in an area bounded by sea on one side and rural maquis, and farmland on the other. I’ve not seen one in the garden before, and whilst I have a pool, this is stringently patrolled by a very territorial ruddy darter. Any help would be much appreciated!
Signature: Jane

Robber Fly
Robber Fly

Hi Jane,
This is a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, and like the unrelated Dragonfly, it is an adept hunter capable of taking large prey on the wing.  Your individual looks very similar to this
Promachus species sighted on Cyprus that is posted to Nature Wonders.

Letter 53 – Robber Fly: Efferia albibarbis

 

Subject: Um, super cool
Location: Las Vegas, nv
July 14, 2016 1:34 pm
What the heck is this guy? He’s just chilling on my patio. I got really close to him, he’s fearless but non aggressive.
Signature: Las Vegas

Robber Fly:  Efferia albibarbis
Robber Fly: Efferia albibarbis

We believe we have correctly identified your Robber Fly as a male Efferia albibarbis based on images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 54 – Robber Fly from Chile

 

Subject:  Horsefly or Drone?
Geographic location of the bug:  Chile central
Date: 01/06/2018
Time: 06:14 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This little fellow was spotted on a tree. Ive never seen this kind before in this region, we have gray horse flies and Scapia Lata in the south.  Seeing it from distance it looked like a queen bee or drone (because of the size), a “bumblebee male” someone suggested, but I believe is a smartly bee-colored horsefly. Can you identify the bug ?
How you want your letter signed:  Mr.

Robber Fly

Dear Mr.,
This is one impressive looking female, predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We were unable to locate any Chilean individuals that resemble your submission, but it does remind us of the North American Bee Killers.  Large Robber Flies like this one often take large winged prey, including wasps and bees, on the wing.

Thank you very much!!! Your identification has been confirmed by a local entomologist, this specimen corresponds to Obelophorus landbecki species, apparently a stealthy hunter from the arid Chilean central zone.

Thanks so much for writing back with a species identification.  We did locate an image on the Pierre.Comte.Over blog as well as an image on Insectos de Chile, and in both instances they are images of mounted specimens.  We could not find any images online of living specimens, which makes the posting of your contribution to our site unique.

Letter 55 – Robber Fly from California

 

Subject:  What is it?
Geographic location of the bug:  Southern California
Date: 08/22/2018
Time: 01:10 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, my sister sent me these photos of what looks like a furry dragonfly.  I did a bit of research and found that it looks similar to a red footed cannibalfly…. what do you think?
How you want your letter signed:  Astrid

Robber Fly

Dear Astrid,
This is a large Robber Fly, judging by the ash seed used as scale, but it is not a Red Footed Cannibalfly, an eastern species.  It looks similar to this
Machimus species pictured on the Natural History of Orange County site, but we cannot state for certain that is a correct genus identification.

Letter 56 – Robber Fly from Cambodia

 

Subject:  What this bug name?
Geographic location of the bug:  Cambodia,northern plain
Date: 08/02/2019
Time: 11:23 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I was in jungle trekking for spotting wildlife and found a bug and took some photos but i could not find the specific name, please help
How you want your letter signed:  Bird and nature lover

Thanks you for response. Would this be possible for Hang Thieve or Robber Flies ? i just thinking.
Best Regards,
Hat

Robber Fly

Good Morning Hat AKA Bird and nature lover,
We are happy you were able to identify the magnificent predator in your gorgeous image as a Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, but we don’t believe it is a Hanging Thief in the genus
Diogmites.  We tried searching images of Robber Flies from Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia, and we found this FlickR image, but it is only identified to the family level.  It looks similar to Clephydroneura serrula which is figure 7 in an online pdf about Robber Flies from Vietnam on Onychium.  There is also an article in Vietnamese with an image on Vietnam National Museum of Nature site.

Letter 57 – Robber Fly from Australia

 

Subject:  What is this found in clarinda
Geographic location of the bug:  Clarinda victoria
Date: 02/04/2020
Time: 07:33 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  My wife found this at the park. Never seen it before in my life. What on earth is it?
How you want your letter signed:  Mik

Unknown Robber Fly

Dear Mik,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the family Asilidae, but we are uncertain of the species.  There are many species pictured on the Brisbane Insect site.

Letter 58 – Unknown Robber Fly from Wisconsin

 

Subject:  Large wasp/mosquito
Geographic location of the bug:  Door County Wisconsin
Date: 07/17/2021
Time: 11:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
I found this large bug that I am very curious about.  Looks like a wasp meets a mosquito.
How you want your letter signed:  Bobbert Duderoni

Unidentified Robber Fly

Dear Bobbert,
This is one magnificent Robber Fly and we are not certain of the species.  It reminds us of individuals in the genus
Saropogon, which is represented on BugGuide, and it also reminds us of members of the Subfamily Stenopogoninae which is also represented on BugGuide.  Perhaps one of our readers more skilled at identifying Diptera will be able to assist in this identification.

Letter 59 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Interesting bee photo!
Hi,
Last year I was mowing the yard, and I saw what appeared to be a huge bee flying towards my face. It turned out to be a bumble bee flying about with a honey bee in it’s mouth. It was flying around, and landed on a bush, to apparently devour the bee. It allowed me to get close enough to snap a couple of pics. Can you tell me if this is normal behavior? Here it is.
Thanks!
Richard Staron
Houston, Texas

Hi Richard,
This is most certainly not normal behavior for a Bumble Bee, but it is perfectly normal for a Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina, a species of Robber Fly.

Letter 60 – Southern Bee Killer

 

bumblebee killing honeybee? queen mating with drone?
I can see that this is obviously a bumblebee (don’t know which species); but I’m surprised to see it firmly attached to what appears to be a honeybee (or a drone?). I’ve sent two different views. Do you have any idea what’s going on here? Thanks for any time you can spare to help me out.
Diane
Chuluota, FL (Central Fl)

Hi Diane,
This is not a Bumblebee. It is a Robber Fly known as a Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina. According to BugGuide it is a: “Large, fuzzy, bee-mimicking robber flies. Resemble Laphria , another genus of robbers that mimic bumblebees, but is even hairier and has antennae with a very thin terminal final segment, whereas Laphria has thick antennae. “

Letter 61 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Is this a bee or fly?
Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 4:53 AM
Nearly everyday I come home from work to find one or two of what look like skinny bumblebees on my front porch clinging to the screens. The porch was just recently screened in and doesn’t have a door yet which is how they are getting on the porch. The bees/flies are pretty docile and easy to catch. I’ve been able to catch them in wads of cloth and then I just open the cloth outside and they fly away. I have a large flowerbed right outside the porch with lots of blooming flowers which is probably what is attracting them in the first place. I see plenty of the regular fat bumblebees in the garden all the time. I live in central florida and this has been going on for about a month now.
Just in case the pictures are not clear enough you can also see them in my photobucket acount, which is as follows.
Kara
central Florida, Citrus county

Bee Killer
Bee Killer

Good Morning Kara,
What a magnificent image of a Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina, a species of Robber Fly that is a very convincing bumblebee mimic. Souther Bee Killers prey on insects, including bees. Its proximity to your flower bed can be explained if that flower bed is frequented by bees. BugGuide also has information on this species.  BugGuide indicates this of the genus:  “Large, fuzzy, bee-mimicking robber flies. Resemble Laphria , another genus of robbers that mimic bumblebees, but is even hairier and has antennae with a very thin terminal final segment, whereas Laphria has thick antennae.”  Your specimen has very thin antennae.

Letter 62 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Subject: Southern Bee Killer
Location: Stevenson, AL.
August 3, 2013 11:13 pm
I saw this guy hang out with his thug friend in my flower garden. Earlier I spotted one attacking one of my Pinevine Swallowtails.
Signature: Amy C.

Southern Bee Killer
Southern Bee Killer

Dear Amy,
The Southern Bee Killer,
Mallophora orcina, is one impressive predator.  These large Robber Flies are adept hunters that take prey on the wing.  We are sorry to hear about your Pipevine Swallowtail.  More information on the Southern Bee Killer can be found on BugGuide.

Letter 63 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Subject: Bug ID
Location: Central Florida
November 9, 2016 12:44 am
I found this bug in Orlando, Florida in the fall. It seemed to be hairy and was mostly black with small touches of yellow on its body. It had large wings.
Signature: Meg

Southern Bee Killer
Southern Bee Killer

Dear Meg,
We feel confident, because of its markings, that your Robber Fly is a Southern Bee Killer,
Mallophora orcina.  This large predator takes large prey, including bees and wasps, by catching them on the wing.

Letter 64 – Southern Bee Killer

 

Subject:  Huge bee
Geographic location of the bug:  North Florida
Date: 09/24/2018
Time: 06:59 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This large bee thing buzzed my position.
How you want your letter signed:  Kurtz

Southern Bee Killer

Dear Kurtz,
This is not a Bee.  It is a Southern Bee Killer,
Mallophora orcina, or another member of the genus, and it is pictured on BugGuide.  It is a predatory Robber Fly that mimics a large Bee and that feeds primarily on Bees and Wasps as well as other large flying insects.  Based on data for BugGuide sightings, this is a late season sighting.

Letter 65 – Southern Bee Killer – Mallophora orcina

 

Is it a bee?
I found this insect late in the evening on my porch. I live north of San Antonio, Texas. It is about an 1 – 1 1/4 inch (body length). It is black with one spot of yellow on its thorax and yellow between and below each eye. The wings are brown. All the legs are furry and the hind legs have furry patches. It looks like a very large bee, but in trying to identify this insect the only thing that even remotely resembles it, is the carpenter bee, but the markings are no where near similar. Could you please help me identify this insect. Thank you!!!!
Jamie Miller

Hi Jamie,
We located your Robber Fly, one of the Bee Hunters, on BugGuide. It is the Southern Bee Killer, Mallophora orcina. Adults feed on honey bees which the descend upon rapidly while the bee is unsuspecting. They sieze the bee by the thorax so the stinger cannot be used. Nice photo.

Letter 66 – Virginia Bee Killer

 

Bee Mimic and Unknown
Hey guys,
I know you are swamped but I had to share a photo I took this month on Skidaway Island, Georgia. I came across this amazing robber fly that appeared to mimic a bee.
Anthony

Hi Anthony,
Based on the yellow facial hair and black abdomen, we are identifying your bee mimic Robber Fly as a Virginia Bee Killer, Laphria virginica.

Letter 67 – Virginia Bee Killer

 

Subject: Some kind of fly?
Location: Lynchburg, VA
May 29, 2013 6:24 pm
Observed this critter in Lynchburg, VA, May 29, about 2:30 pm.
It’s happily devouring something which I think looks a little like a firefly, but not too much of it is left. When I tried to get closer & see whether it has two wings or four, it took off, but I think it’s two. Size: approx 7/8” long.
Some kind of fly?
Signature: Ann Bee Zee

Virginia Bee Killer
Virginia Bee Killer

Dear Ann Bee Zee,
This is a predatory Robber Fly in the genus
Laphria, and we believe it is the Virginia Bee Killer, Laphria virginica.  We compared your photo to images on BugGuide.  These impressive insects often take prey on the wing, and they are often seen preying upon bees and wasps.

Letter 68 – Yellow-Bellied Bee Assassin

 

What is it?
Bugman,
I live in near Tucson, Arizona and found this pretty bug in my yard. I would like to know what it is, I have never seen one like it before. Thank you,
Joann

Hi Joann,
This is a Yellow-Bellied Bee Assassin, Apiomerus flaviventris, a species that is associated with Arizona. Handle with care as Assassin Bugs can bite.

Letter 69 – Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin

 

Is this bug dangerous?
July 6, 2010
We found this bug on a sunflower this summer. We have other bugs shaped like it but they are black with a small amount of reddish orange on the tips of their wings or backs (they seem to be flightless). Since this one was colored in this very unusual way we were concerned it could possibly be dangerous, as many insects with these types of color schemes are.
Thanks for your help! Heather in Mesa
Mesa, Arizona (the Sonoran Desert)

Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin

Hi Heather,
The coloration of this Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin,
Apiomerus flaviventris, could well be warning coloration as it will bite, and the bite can be painful.  Usually, such warning coloration is used to ward off predators, and it is a topic to ponder when that warning coloration is sported by a predatory species, like the Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin, since it might also warn prospective prey.  According the the genus information page on BugGuide:  “It pounces on Honey Bees and other pollinating insects. It holds the captive in its powerful legs, thrusts its cutting beak into the victim’s back, injects an immobilizing digestive agent, then sucks out the body juices.

Letter 70 – Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin

 

Subject:  What’s this sunflower loving bug?
Geographic location of the bug:  Phoenix, Arizona. USA
Date: 05/21/2018
Time: 10:31 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This 6 legged bug likes sunflowers. Never seen this bug in my entire life. Black, red and yellow.  Any idea what it is?
How you want your letter signed:  Andrea ~

Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin

Dear Andrea,
As soon as we read your submission, we suspected you encountered a Yellow Bellied Bee Assassin,
Apiomerus flaviventris, and sure enough, you had.  Bee Assassins are predatory Assassin Bugs and as their name implies, they favor pollinating insects including Bees, and they frequently wait on blooms like your sunflower for a meal to arrive.  According to BugGuide:  “This species exhibits a high level of polychromatism although in the United States the color pattern is fairly uniform.” 

Authors

  • 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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

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Tags: Robber Flies

Related Posts

38 Comments. Leave new

  • Trevor, CSIRO Insects of Australia says there are two groups of giant robber flies in Australia, Phellus and Blepharotes. Both are pictured on the geocities site. Might be worth a look.
    Regards,
    Grev

    Reply
  • Thank you for your kind words, it is an honor that you choose to use some of my photos. I have taken away so much from you and your wonderful website, it just seems right that I give a little something back. Once again, Thank You for all you do.

    Reply
  • photogirl800mm
    July 30, 2011 8:10 pm

    Hi. I sent a rather blurry picture in last week which looked really similar to this Robber Fly. A friend of mine in West Va took the pic, in a school room. She said her husband saw another one outside in a different town about two days later. I told her to come to this page and check it out — she said yes, this looks like what she saw. Would they be that far North East as West Virginia? Thanks!

    Reply
    • As we stated in the original posting, we thought this looked like a Hanging Thief in the genus Diogmites. Chances are that your friend saw a Hanging Thief. Here is a photo from our archives of a Hanging Thief for comparison.

      Reply
  • photogirl800mm
    July 31, 2011 7:55 am

    Thanks so much!!! I love this site!

    Reply
  • photogirl800mm
    July 31, 2011 3:13 pm

    I sent my friend the link to this page, with the Hanging Thief, and she said YES, that was what it was — because the pointy nose was the same 🙂

    Reply
  • Hi, thank you for the feedback, this fly was about 50mm long, and we found it in the Isimasilingo Wetland Park, St Lucia, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa at a spot known as Mission Rocks. It was a ver hot and humid but clear day following a recent storm. The insect was sitting on the roof of a small car, hence it was clearly visible, giving me a fantastic opportunity to take some photos.
    Regards Stephan

    Reply
    • Thank you for following up with a comment on your posting. These first hand observations are a priceless component of our archive.

      Reply
  • Hi,
    It was in fact found inside the sanctuary dome.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment. Is the dome the entire ceiling of the sanctuary or is it a special area of the sanctuary?

      Reply
  • I got a photo of a Kansas version of the Robber Fly Bumble Bee Mimic last summer.

    Reply
  • That looks like a wickedly beautiful Robber Fly!

    Reply
  • This is Laphria gibbosa.

    Reply
  • I stumbled across one of these sitting in my driveway on the ground. I gave it a very wide birth, its one scary looking bug. I live in greater los angeles CA.

    Reply
  • Neoaratus hercules, one of Australia’s largest Asilids. Note the curious structures on his wings, of apparently unknown function.

    Reply
  • we’ve spotted one or two (seen on different days) of these devilish bee killers way out of their range here in sacramento, california.
    have a blurry photo, but couldn’t get it to post. thank you for your site!

    Reply
  • we’ve spotted one or two (seen on different days) of these devilish bee killers way out of their range here in sacramento, california.
    have a blurry photo, but couldn’t get it to post. thank you for your site!

    Reply
  • Robber Flies are bad boys.

    Reply
  • Hi
    I found a Giant Blue Robber Fly near my property at Rock Forest NSW 2795 today (Wednesday 8th Feb 2017).
    It was dead on the ground where I found it on the road, but I picked it up & brought it home to look it up on google to identify the species.

    Reply
  • Hi
    I found a Giant Blue Robber Fly near my property at Rock Forest NSW 2795 today (Wednesday 8th Feb 2017).
    It was dead on the ground where I found it on the road, but I picked it up & brought it home to look it up on google to identify the species.

    Reply
  • I just had one of these on my back porch tonight. Scared me to death. He was buzzing around my porch light. I took 3 pictures. Bandera, texas

    Reply
  • Thank you. One of these landed in my mom’s yard (Texas) scared the beejeebees out of her…she took 9 pictures and ran inside.

    Reply
  • Just found one in my house in Mossel Bay. Never seen something like it before. Gave it a good whack with a towel ( thought for a moment it was a wasp) I picked it up with toilet paper and just layed there. To my surprise he was playing dead. Loud buzzing sound when it flyes.

    Reply
  • Saw one Aug01, 2019 in NW San Antonio. Saw it take off and snatch a huge red wasp in mid-flight!!

    Reply
  • Belzebub means lord of the flies in Hebrew. If the flies are going to have a lord, a great big robber fly like this one seems like a good choice.

    Reply
  • Dwain Etterling
    October 3, 2019 7:06 pm

    Today as I was watering my bushes I saw this very same thing pictured here. I am 65 years old and have never seen this before.

    Reply
  • Chanda Lowe
    June 27, 2020 2:34 pm

    Hi. I was comparing this robber fly to other examples of Laphria flava, and they don’t appear to have those bright yellow tibiae. I wonder if it might be something along the lines of Pogonosoma maroccanum instead?

    Compare to this one: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/14230401 or this one: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/43369675 or this one: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/3910312

    Reply
  • Chanda Lowe
    June 27, 2020 2:34 pm

    Hi. I was comparing this robber fly to other examples of Laphria flava, and they don’t appear to have those bright yellow tibiae. I wonder if it might be something along the lines of Pogonosoma maroccanum instead?

    Compare to this one: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/14230401 or this one: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/43369675 or this one: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/3910312

    Reply
  • I just found one of these on the front door screen. Only thing is im in San Diego California about a mile from the beach right by sea world. can they be expanding thier territory? How do they kill birds? Is this an invasive species? Dose this mean there is a hive in close proximity?
    Thank you.
    Miesha Fierro

    Reply
  • I just found one of these on the front door screen. Only thing is im in San Diego California about a mile from the beach right by sea world. can they be expanding thier territory? How do they kill birds? Is this an invasive species? Dose this mean there is a hive in close proximity?
    Thank you.
    Miesha Fierro

    Reply
  • I have been privileged to photograph one of these large hairy legged Bees here in Comanche, TX!

    Reply

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