Insect Identification logo

Robberfly (Laphria saffrana)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Robberfly, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 6/14/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

Picture of Robberfly-Laphria
Picture of Robberfly-Laphria Picture of Robberfly-Laphria

This Robberfly looks like a yellowjacket, but it should instill more fear in other flying insects rather than people.

Robberflies are aerial hunters. They hang on twigs and branches, waiting for a meal to fly by. Robberflies are extremely fast and chase down other flying insects. Once caught, the Robberfly will carry the insect in its jaws until it can rest, then it stabs the insect and sucks out its internal fluids.

Species of Robberflies may vary in color and pattern. Laphria saffrana has a hairy 'beard' on its face and long, tapered abdomen ('tail'). The head and abdomen are covered in bristly yellow hairs and the legs are amber and yellow in color. A black thorax offers contrast to the bright yellow hairs that form an open circle around its edges. Two yellow spots are in the center of the open ring on the thorax. This marking sort of resembles a black pumpkin with two yellow eyes in it. Black wings fold over each other when at rest.

Picture of the Robberfly
Picture of the Robberfly

Robberfly Information

Category: Fly or Mosquito
Common Name: Robberfly
Scientific Name: Laphria saffrana

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Diptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Asilidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Laphria
       Arrow graphic Species: saffrana

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 15 mm to 22 mm (0.585 inches to 0.858 inches)
Identifying Colors: black, yellow
Additional Descriptors: fast, hanging, attack, ambush, chase, furry, hairy

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; 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; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that 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. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

Images Gallery


BugFinder: What is it?