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Robber Fly - L. grossa (Laphria grossa)

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

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Fast-flying, black-and-gold, hairy, and buzzy: this Robber Fly species often gets mistaken for an expeditious bumble bee.

Updated: 07/05/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Laphria grossa is an excellent doppleganger for a common bumble bee. The black and yellow bands of color are in similar places. The amount of yellow on the body may vary by region, but the face, thorax, upper legs, and upper abdomen all have yellow hairs. A quick look at the antennae shows that they are short; bees have longer antennae that are bent, or elbowed. The brown wings flap so rapidly, they create an audible buzzing sound when they fly by people.

Robber Flies steal their meals from the skies. They often rest on a tree branch, fence post, or other perch, waiting for insects to fly nearby. The speed of the Robber Fly allows it to catch and ambush insects in-flight. This species is fond of Japanese Beetles, which makes them a welcome guest in a flower garden. Look for them in areas where oak and elms trees grow as well as garden areas with flying prey.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Fast insect icon
Flying insect icon
Hairy 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: grossa

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Laphria grossa
Other Name(s): Golden Giant Bee-Mimic Robber Fly
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 22mm to 35mm (0.86" to 1.37")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; gold; yellow
Descriptors: fast; loud; buzz; bumble bee; hairy; flying; legs

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 22mm (0.9in) and 35mm (1.4in)
Lo: 22mm
Md: 28.5mm
Hi: 35mm

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 Robber Fly - L. grossa 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 - L. grossa. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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