bee-like robber fly

(Laphria canis complex)

Conservation Status
bee-like robber fly (Laphria canis complex)
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

not listed

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Laphria canis complex is an artificial grouping of at least six closely related species of small to medium-sized bee-like robber flies. One species occurs only in the far west. Two species are undescribed. The remaining three species have been collected in Minnesota (University of Minnesota Entomology Collection). The western species is also in that collection, but it is so far out of its known range that the identification must be questioned. Males of the species can be differentiated by the size of the genital bulb or by close examination of the genitalia. Females cannot be differentiated from a photograph.

Laphria canis complex occurs in the United States and southern Canada east of the Great Plains. In Minnesota it is most common in the southeast quarter of the state, where it is at the western extent of its range. It is found from June through August in shaded woodlands, woodland openings and edges, and fields near woodlands. Adults perch on the leaves of low plants. Larvae live in soil or rotting wood, where they prey on the larvae of other insects.

Adults are black, slender, and small, usually ¼ to ½ (7 to 12 mm) in length but sometimes up to (16 mm) long. The thorax and abdomen are thinly covered with pale grayish hairs.

There are two large compound eyes on the side of the head and three small simple eyes (ocelli) in a triangle on top of the head. The top of the head is depressed (“hollowed out”) between the compound eyes. The ocelli are on a prominent rounded projection (tubercle) in the middle of the head between the compound eyes. There is a prominent mustache of long, stiff, black bristles (mystax) on the immediately above the mouth. The hairs on the sides of the head and below the mouth (beard) are silvery. The antennae have 3 segments. The third segment is elongated.

The thorax is black. Depending on the angle of the light it may appear slightly golden. The small, knob-like structures on each side of the thorax (halteres) are yellow.

The abdomen is long, slender, tapered, and black. The genital bulb at the tip of the abdomen is black. On Laphria canis it is much larger than the adjacent abdominal segment.

The wings are clear. They are pale at the base, moderately to barely smoky brown beyond.

The legs are stout and black. They are covered with long gray and black hairs. The last part of the leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, has five segments. The last segment has 2 pads.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: ¼ to (7 to 16 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Shaded woodlands, woodland openings and edges, and fields near woodlands

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Late May through August

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Larval Food

 
 

Insect larvae

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Small invertebrates

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 27, 29, 30, 82.

 
  2/2/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common in southeast Minnesota

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Diptera (gnats, mosquitoes, true flies)  
 

Suborder

Brachycera (circular-seamed flies, mouches muscoïdes, muscoid flies, short-horned flies)  
 

Infraorder

Muscomorpha  
 

Superfamily

Asiloidea  
 

Family

Asilidae (robber flies)  
 

Subfamily

Laphriinae  
 

Tribe

Laphriini  
 

Genus

Laphria (bee-like robber flies, bumble bee mimic robber flies)  
       
 

 

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

bee-like robber fly (Laphria canis)

bee-like robber fly (Laphria franciscana)

bee-like robber fly (Laphria sicula) (?)

bee-like robber fly (Laphria winnemana) (?)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Laphria dispar

Laphria disparella

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Few of the North American Laphria species have a common name. One common name for the genus is bee-like robber fly, and is applied here for convenience.

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Halteres

In flies: a pair of knob-like structures on the thorax representing hind wings that are used for balance.

 

Mystax

On flies, especially in the family Asilidae, a patch of bristles or hairs (mustache) immediately above the mouth.

 

Ocellus

Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.

 

Tarsus

The last two to five subdivisions of an insect’s leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. Plural: tarsi.

 

 

 

 

 

       
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Alfredo Colon
       
  bee-like robber fly (Laphria canis complex)   bee-like robber fly (Laphria canis complex)
       
  bee-like robber fly (Laphria canis complex)   bee-like robber fly (Laphria canis complex)
       
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Other Videos
 
  Robber Fly (Asilidae: Laphria canis) Anterior View
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Jun 23, 2010

Photographed at Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (22 June 2010).

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
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Alfredo Colon
8/22/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

bee-like robber fly (Laphria canis complex)


Alfredo Colon
8/6/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

bee-like robber fly (Laphria canis complex)


Alfredo Colon
8/2/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

bee-like robber fly (Laphria canis complex)


     
     
 
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Created: 2/2/2021

Last Updated:

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