Though its feet aren't all that red, the large Red-footed Cannibalfly is alarmingly loud and incredibly fast.
A type of Robberfly, the Red-footed Cannibalfly is an aerial predator. It beats its long wings so quickly that an audible buzz is often the precursor to seeing it whiz by in a blur. This terrifying speed allows it to snatch other flying insects right out of the sky. Tremendous size and leg strength (for a fly), coupled with a chemical-laced bite, allow it to easily subdue prey that may be larger than itself. The Red-footed Cannibalfliy can catch grasshoppers and other big insects, but it is more often seen with bees, wasps, and other flies in its possession. The bite injects quick-acting enzymes that help liquefy internal parts, making them easier to ingest. This carnivorous fly may be seen clinging to window screens, tree bark, or fences while it takes its meal. Between catches, the Red-footed Cannibalfly rests on a twig, branch, or other perch that allows it to visually scan the air for passersby. Once spotted, it zooms to its next meal.
This species has a yellow abdomen with black dots that mimic tiger stripes along the dorsal (top) side. Long, brown, transparent wings are almost the length of the abdomen. The brown thorax forms a humpback. Feet are black and spiky, but the legs are yellow. The 'thighs' are black. When perched, all six legs may be tucked while it sits on a narrow branch. While resting or feeding, the legs spread out. Large black eyes are surrounded by yellow hairs. Males have a black rounded tip at the end of the abdomen while females have a black, pointed ovipositor that may be mistaken for a stinger. Like all flies, the Red-footed Cannibalfly lacks a stinger and cannot sting, but it can bite in defense or if handled roughly.
Listen and watch for Red-footed Cannibalflies from the middle to the end of the summer when food options are plentiful. Areas like meadows, gardens, and woodlands, which act as homes to a variety of insects, are great places to find this type of Robberfly.
Scientific Name: Promachus rufipes
Other Name(s): Bee Panther
Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 28mm to 35mm (1.09in to 1.37in)
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