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Robber Fly (Various spp.)


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



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



Updated: 09/16/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.




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


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Asilidae
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          Genus: Various
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            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Various spp.
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 30mm (0.39" to 1.18")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, black, white
Descriptors: loud, buzzing, fast, flying, hairy, spotted
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 30mm (1.2in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 20mm
Hi: 30mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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State of Delware graphic
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State of Washington graphic
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State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the 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 Robber Fly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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