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Robber Fly (Various spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Robber Fly.

 Updated: 8/9/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Large, fast and loud, Robber Flies are masters at capturing their meals from the sky and startling humans nearby.



Though it looks like a large bee, a Robber Fly is actually a fly so it does not sting. The sheer size of the insect can alarm people unfamiliar with it, but the loud buzzing it creates by furiously beating its wings can be more disturbing. Most people hear it coming by before they see it. Flying insects like wasps, bees, beetles, and even other flies are all food sources for a Robber Fly. It uses air superiority to catch up to and catch insects as they fly, as if they are robbed from the air. The Robber Fly takes the captured prey to a branch and eats it.

Robber Flies come in a variety of colors. Some are black and white, others are tan, and still others are brown. Legs are long and strong, which is useful for carrying airborne prey. Many Robber Flies have hair around the face. Some have tapered abdomens that come to a point, others have a paddle. Listen for Robber Flies while sitting outside, especially near gardens or woods. Look for resting Robber Flies on branches of trees, fence posts, and garden boxes while they scan the air for a suitable target. Their diet helps control pest populations, so do not be quick to swat at them.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Asilidae
          Genus: Various
            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 30mm (0.39in to 1.17in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, black, white
Descriptors: loud, buzzing, fast, flying, hairy, spotted
Territorial Map
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
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Alberta
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Manitoba
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Quebec
Saskatchewan
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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.