Readers’ wildlife photographs

Reader Mike McDowell sent us some splendid photos of dipterans—robber flies. His notes and IDs are indented.

Robber flies share some of the same microhabitats as tiger beetles, with the latter often falling prey to the former. Thus, when in the field photographing tiger beetles, I often come across a variety of robber flies. They’re equally as challenging to sneak up on, so it’s a lucky day when one can leave the field with great portraiture of both types of insects. For the uninitiated, robber flies have a spike-shaped proboscis that they jab into their prey and use it to inject saliva containing a mix of neurotoxins and enzymes that paralyze and digest the insides. The devilish fly then sucks out the liquefied meal through its proboscis. Nasty!
The last two are genus Laphria, but unsure of species — perhaps a reader can identify them.


Efferia albibarbis



Proctacanthella cacopiliga:

Laphria Robber Fly (with prey):
Laphria Robber Fly:


  1. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 26, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Terrific pictures! Do you ever see robber flies turning their heads? I know the bumble bee mimicking Laphria will do it, but have not noticed other species doing that.

  2. Christopher
    Posted November 26, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Odd but interesting-looking wee beasties. First time I encountered one of the bumblebee mimicking species feasting on a bumblebee I probably spent a good 20 minutes following it around the garden, absolutely awe-struck. Great shots!

  3. rickflick
    Posted November 26, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Superbly photographed collection.

    The injection of neurotoxin through a piercing proboscis could be the inspiration for a lovely horror film.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 26, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard if you handle the robber fly and aggravate it enough for it to bite you, it really hurts. I imagine it would given that large proboscis! Think of how much horse flies hurt when they bite & they have comparatively small proboscises!

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted November 26, 2016 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    It looks to me that the one on the flower is laying eggs into it.

  5. Posted November 26, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Micks Blog and commented:
    Amazing macros!

  6. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 26, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I love robber flies with their moustaches!!

  7. Posted November 26, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Great photos. The time and patience required must have been enormous.

  8. Posted November 26, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Beautifully done shots. Really sharp and also shows the flys’ personalities.

  9. Glenda
    Posted November 26, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Thank you. Enjoyed notes and excellent photos.

  10. Ann German
    Posted November 26, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    they’ve got Bette Davis eyes!!!

  11. Mark R.
    Posted November 26, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Terrific shots! Some of the flies look to be standing on beach sand.

  12. Posted November 26, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    The sand in the photos is gorgeous!

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