Meet the Predatory Robber Fly…Native to Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee…You Name It
I believe there are three camps when it comes to how people feel about insects--"kill 'em all, I hate them"; "I'm respectful of them, but not fond of them"; and "don't hurt any of them until you know what purpose they serve."
That last segment of the population might just be entomologists.
But if you took one look at a somewhat gruesome-looking robber fly, you might wonder why some might not want to grab the Raid.
That one's kind of big (and irritable), and I don't know if that robber fly species is here in Kentucky, but I don't that it ISN'T since they seem to be everywhere in the U.S.
Listen, I've been bitten by species of flies, and those bites HURT. Why can't they just be like mosquitoes and leave an itchy welt? Who needs pain from a bug?
The robber fly isn't among those that frequently bite humans. If they do, it would be accidental or if they were provoked.
They are a much bigger problem for their fellow insects...and even their own species. Thanks to the University of Kentucky's entomology department (Lord knows what they get to dissect in THOSE classes), we know that robber flies like to dine on pests we don't need like wasps, among others, but their lack of discrimination also means they'll eat the insects we DO need like bees. But if you're looking for evidence that robber flies DO put on their big boy pants, just ask yellowjackets...or, better yet, watch this:
UK also tells us that they are popular among collectors but are always on the move. So a net is required if you want to capture one. Speaking of "capturing one," robber flies seemingly "pose" for photos; yes, they are always on the move, but when they light on a rock, for example, they stay very still, and you can get a good picture if you don't startle it.
And how unknowingly timely. Check out this video from Cambridge University; they label robber flies the Top Guns of the insect world. (I wonder if they know about this summer's sequel.)
And despite the fact that I have never heard of robber flies--their prevalence notwithstanding--until today, they figure into Native American mythology. Kokopelli is a Hopi fertility deity and trickster god, the last half of whose name--"pelli"--means "desert robber fly." You can get the whole Kokopelli scoop at Melhaven.com. I love mythology.
But I don't love biting flies, so I'll be leaving the robber fly to his business, now that I know what it looks like.
Just stay away from the bees; we all need to eat.