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Robber flies belong to the family Asilidae. This family includes some of the largest and most distinctive insects in the order Diptera. Like all true flies, robber flies have only 2 wings. Robber flies also have a distinctive hollow space between their 2 large compound eyes. This characteristic distinguishes robber flies from most other kinds of flies.
Adult stages are medium to large (3/8 to 1-1/8 inch) flies often observed on stems of plants, on the ground or flying low. Species vary in appearance and some mimic wasps and bees.
Most species are gray to black, hairy-bodied, have a long, narrow, tapering abdomen containing segments that may be banded, patterned or contrasting in color. The heads of adults have a depression between the eyes when viewed from the front. They have long, strong legs for grabbing prey
Some robber flies resemble bees in a appearance but can readily be separated since true flies have only one pair of wings. However, bee flies (Diptera: Bombyliidae) are another family of flies, and include many species of stout-bodied, yellow haired flies often seen hovering or resting on the ground or on flowers in open, sunny areas. Many have wings marked with darker patterns and they hold their wings outstretched
Habitat and Food: Adults have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Adult robber flies perch on stems of low plants or other objects and attack prey in the air. They feed on bees, beetles, dragonflies, other flies, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, wasps, and other insects. Larvae live in the soil, in wood and other habitats, feeding on organic matter, other arthropods such as white grubs, beetle pupae and grasshopper egg masses, and they may be carnivorous.
Robber flies exhibit minimal courtship behavior. Instead, the male pounces on the female much like an act of prey acquisition. Copulation is accomplished in a tail-to-tail fashion with the male and female genetalia interlocked. Flight is not completely inhibited during mating.
Robber Fly larvae
Life Cycle : Female Asilidae deposit whitish-colored eggs on low-lying plants and grasses, or in crevices within soil, bark, or wood. Egg-laying habits depend on the species and their specific habitat; most species lay their eggs in masses, which are then covered with a chalky protective coating.
Robber fly larvae live in the soil or in various other decaying organic materials that occur in their environment. Larvae are also predatory, feeding on eggs, larvae, or other soft-bodied insects.
Robber flies overwinter as larvae and pupate in the soil. Pupae migrate to the soil surface and emerge as adults, often leaving behind their pupal casing. Complete development ranges from one to three years, depending on species and environmental conditions. Theodor (1980) proposed that larval growth is accelerated in warmer regions and that many Asilidae species live no longer than one year.
Robber Fly Eating
Although robber flies are predators, they are sometimes prey for other animals, including spiders, birds, and larger predatory insects like assassin bugs, praying mantids, and even other robber flies . Larval robber flies live in soil and decaying wood where they hunt for insect larvae, worms, and similar creatures. They are sometimes eaten by moles and underground arthropods predators, such as centipedes and ground beetle larvae.
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