bumble bee mimic robber fly

(Laphria sacrator)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

bumble bee mimic robber fly (Laphria sacrator)

NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Fairly common in northeastern and north-central United States

Flight/Season

June through July and possibly later

Habitat

Woodlands, shrubby woodland edges adjacent to a grassland.

Size

Total Length: to 1

Photo by Christa Rittberg

Identification

This is a short, robust, medium-sized, robber fly. It has a stout thorax and a short abdomen, both partially covered with long yellow hairs making it resemble a bumble bee. It is one of the hairiest of the bee-like robber flies. Adults are to 1 long.

The thorax is stout, bluish-black, and densely covered with long yellow hairs. The hairs at the upper middle of the thorax are sparse letting the ground color show through.

The abdomen is black, relatively short, and bee-like. The first three segments are covered with long yellow hairs. On the female most the fourth segment is also covered with yellow hairs. The remaining segments are covered with long black hairs.

The forehead (frons) is short. The upper face has long, black, erect hairs and short, dirty yellow hairs that lie flat. There is a cluster of forward-directed bristles (a “beard”) on the lower part of the face. The beard on males is entirely black. On females there are yellow hairs at the upper margin of the beard behind the top of the eye. The hairs below the sucking mouth part (proboscis) are black.

There are two large compound eyes and three small simple eyes (ocelli). The compound eyes extend above the level of the top of the head (vertex), making the head appear hollowed out between the eyes when viewed from the front. The ocelli are arranged in a triangle on a prominent rounded projection (tubercle) in the middle of the head between the compound eyes.

The antennae have 3 segments. The third segment is elongated and is not subdivided by rings.

The legs are stout and spiny. The fourth section (tibia) of the front and middle legs are covered with long yellow hairs. The last segment of the foot (tarsus) has 2 pads.

 
Similar
Species

 


Larval Food

 

 
Adult Food

Flying insects, including bees, wasps, beetles, and other robber flies

 
Life Cycle

 

 
Behavior

 


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 27, 29, 30.


Comments

Large Family
With 7,003 species in 530 genera worldwide, robber flies are one of the largest and most abundant families of insects alive today. Bee-like robber flies, as their name suggests, resemble bees. There are 240 species of bee-like robber flies, 62 species in North America north of Mexico.

No Common Name
Few of the North American species have a common name. The common name for the genus is bee-like robber fly. Laphria sacrator is one of several species famous for being a bumble bee mimic, so “bumble bee mimic robber fly” will stand in for the common name.


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

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

no common name


 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

frons

The upper part of an insect’s face, roughly corresponding to the forehead.

 

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.

 

tibia

The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot).

 

vertex

The upper surface of an insect’s head.

 

 

 

 

 

       

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Christa Rittberg


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