Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Bug identity


Mystery bug
Mystery bug  
We live in California & it's summer. My husband found this insect just sitting in the sun. Please tell us what it is.

Dear Monique - This is a robber fly (Diptera: Asilidae); likely in the genus Mallophora - see http://tinyurl.com/p6xemb4 for an example. Robber flies in the genus are known as bee killers, and  several species in the subfamily Laphriinae also are excellent bee mimics, with some specializing in preying on bees. All robber flies are ambush predators on insects and other arthropods, simply sitting on a handy perch until a potential meal wanders/flies close enough for a quick capture.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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