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NC State Extension

Robber Flies

  • Common Name: Robber Flies
  • General Category: Predator
  • Taxonomic Classification: Diptera: Asilidae
  • Scientific Name: Many species

Description

Because of their large size and loud buzz when flying, these generalist predators are often confused with horse flies and other biting flies. However, because they are not blood feeders they will not fly around your head or try to land on you, and will only bite if mishandled. When they do alight on foliage, the distinctive bearded face, concavity between the eyes, long legs and usually long tapering abdomen give away their identity. Some are also bee and wasp mimics. Adults are predaceous on flying insects. Larvae are associated with soil or decaying wood, and are predaceous on larvae of other insects.

Robber fly adult Robber fly eclosing

Identification

Review the images for tips on how to identify these predators.

Adults

Concavity between eyes, bearded face around beak-like mouthparts. Long legs with fleshy pads at end. Usually long, tapering abdomen. One pair of wings (as in all other flies) with stubby halteres in place of the hind pair.

Larvae

Rarely seen because of their location in the soil or rotting wood. They tend to pupate near the soil surface so they can emerge more easily from their pupal cases

Value in Pest Management

Because they feed on insects, they are generally regarded as being beneficial. However, because of their generalist feeding behavior they do not contribute to management of specific pests. They are not sold commercially.

Origin and Distribution

Native, throughout North America.

Discover Life – Asilidae

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