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Bee-like Robber Fly (Laphria spp.)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Bee-like Robber Fly

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Image Credit: Alex -icycatelf- Bowen
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Miniature versions of more robust types, Bee-like Robber Flies are small aerial hunters that hide under leaves until it is time to strike.

Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Small, sleek, and black, Bee-like Robber Flies look a lot like wasps or bees. They are adept in flight and are only a threat to the insects they eat. Because they are actually flies, they do not sting. Many species in this particular genus look very similar to each other, so differentiating them on sight may be impossible. All have hairy 'beards' on their face. Adults attack other flying insects in the air and eat them. Larvae feast on softer invertebrates on the ground like grubs and caterpillars.

This type of Bee-like Robber Fly is always near tree cover, so look at forest edges for them. They may perch on branches, and on or under leaves while waiting for a meal to pass by. They are small but fast, and a wonder to watch.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Shiny insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Asilidae
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          Genus: Laphria
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Laphria spp.
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 7mm to 16mm (0.27" to 0.62")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, white, yellow
Descriptors: shiny black, white dot, yellow dot under wing, flying, loud, buzzing, bee mimic

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 7mm (0.3in) and 16mm (0.6in)
Lo: 7mm
Md: 11.5mm
Hi: 16mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Bee-like Robber Fly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Bee-like Robber Fly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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