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Red-Footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Red-Footed Cannibalfly.

 Updated: 8/14/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




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.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Asilidae
          Genus: Promachus
            Species: rufipes
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Promachus rufipes
Other Name(s): Bee Panther
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 28mm to 35mm (1.09in to 1.37in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow, black, red
Descriptors: buzzing, loud, fast, huge, large, flying, mid-air
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.