Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image A robbery fly perches on a rock.

October 31, 2013
The robber fly captures prey mid-air

Known for its incredible ability of seizing insects during mid-flight, the robber fly is also called an “assassin fly” or “bee killer.” It has six powerful legs meant for capturing insects such as bees, grasshoppers, beetles, ants, spiders, butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies, and many others.

Robber flies are insectivores, feasting only on other insects, and they occasionally attack insects larger than themselves, such as bumble bees.

Their straw-like proboscis is meant for piercing and injecting its contaminated saliva to paralyze insects and melt their insides. Once the insides of the captive are fully liquefied, the robber fly uses its proboscis to drink it out.

Many robber fly species are seen having a different variety of colors and some even mimic the color-patterns of bees so they can get closer before they attack. Robber flies grow to lengths of 3 inches or so and are seen worldwide.

Humans are susceptible to a wound when jabbed by their strong proboscis, but it is not harmful to us. Like many creatures, robber flies usually only attack if provoked.


Addie T. Lindsay is 17 years old. She is an accomplished writer and photographer of wildlife creatures, big and small. She can be reached at

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