Posts Tagged ‘Robber Fly’

robber fly with house flyAfter rolling out of bed this morning to welcome the day with a cup of coffee and contemplation I decided to head out to the garden and inspect the pest “situation”. A few days ago I noticed a group of strange insects copulating on a tomato. They were having a good old fashioned insect orgy in the middle of my heirloom tomato plant. Let me correct myself, several of my tomato plants. I had never seen a bug like this before. Probably, I never took notice, because they weren’t messing with my big plans of Italian stewed tomatoes, tomato sandwiches, tomato pie, salsa and a wide variety of other tomato dishes I was was determined to enjoy. After about an hour of asking the Google, “just what is this bug”, I got an answer – they were leaf-footed bugs and they like to eat garden fruits, which meant they had to go.

I turned on the main valve from the rainwater cistern, walked up to the garden with my 5 gallon bucket and garden gloves and then turned on the hose at the garden gate.  I was going to drown as many of those little trouble makers as possible.  I filled up my bucket with water and got ready for battle. One thing I had not considered, was the fact it was mid morning and the sun was getting high in the sky. It was already 80 degrees outside. Apparently by this time of day, those leaf-footed mother scratchers are wide awake and ready for action. Oh yes, and did I forget to mention, they fly…fast.  For every one I caught, three more flew away and most of the time I was in their direct flight pattern.  I moved through the garden dodging left and right – stomping – squealing…ha! I’m sure I would have looked like a crazed farmer lunatic to anyone passing by.

leaffooted bug

I was beginning to get frustrated at my inability to capture all of the leaf-footed bugs when a very large flying insect buzzed by my head and landed next to me on one of the bamboo stalks I use to prop up some of the heavier and droopier pepper plants.  It didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence, because it landed within inches of me and stayed there – still.  It was about 3 inches long with big giant black eyes, clear wings and a long pointy body, much like a dragonfly – striped black and yellow and sort of fuzzy. But it was definitely no dragonfly. It appeared to be mating with another smaller insect which I thought might be its female counter part. But, no…glory be it was one of those leaf-footed bugs and my new friend had it pinned to the bamboo stalk. Hot Damn, the infantry had arrived! It had a large protruding pointy thing coming off of its face it had used to  pierce completely through the body of the leaf-foot. I smiled knowing that I now had met the king daddy of beneficial insects and moved over to the other side of the plant to get a closer look. I then discovered that the flying bug was sucking out his victims juices and I could see his abdomen pulsing in and out.  Death by sucking! Where was my video camera? I was reminded of that scene in the old movie Starship Troopers when the Star Academy recruits had to visit the bug planet and these giant bugs were stabbing and killing people with giant claw like daggers that came off of their faces. So, this is where science fiction writers get their inspiration…in the garden!

I had to find out what this thing was. So, after worshipping at the virtual feet of the almighty Google…again (What did farmers do before they had instant global resources at the touch of a button?) I discovered the name of my new garden battle buddy,  he is known as the Robber Fly and officially, Promachus Rufipes. It was definitely a national geographic moment. So my advice to you as a new organic farmer is keep your eyes open in the garden because there is something new and pretty freakin cool to learn every minute!

And, here’s a few interesting tid-bits about those crazy Robber Flies, if you want to find out more, click on the images above.

Characteristics: Robber flies eat biting flies and other flying insects. They chase them in flight, overtake them and suck out the victim’s insides after stopping on a branch or leaf.They make a loud whirring noise as they fly because they beat their wings so quickly.


General Adult Size (Length):
13mm to 19mm (0.51in to 0.75in)

Identifying Colors: white; black; gray; brown

North American reach includes (may not be limited to):Arizona; New Mexico; Texas; Mississippi; Alabama; Georgia; Florida; South Carolina; North Carolina; Tennessee; Kentucky; Virginia; West Virginia; Oklahoma; Arkansas.

 Category: Fly
Common Name: Robber Fly
Scientific Name: (Promachus Rufipes)


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