Tag Archives: crane fly (Tipula furca)

A few of my favorite things

Because I haven’t the wherewithal to offer more substance than paltry photos, at least at this exact moment…

A female short-winged grasshopper (Dichromorpha elegans) perched on a blade of grass (20080704_09012)

Female short-winged green grasshopper (Dichromorpha viridis)

A female crane fly (subgenus Yamatotipula; Tipula furca) hanging on the side of a tree (20080314_02612)

Female crane fly (subgenus Yamatotipula; Tipula furca)

A giant robber fly (Promachus hinei) clinging to a tree branch (20080711_09237)

Giant robber fly (Promachus hinei)

That last photo is interesting in that it’s the first time I’ve been able to capture an image of the most common species of giant robber fly in the state of Texas.

Although they can inflict a painful bite if mishandled, robber flies pose little threat to people; they do, however, pose a significant threat to other insects.

True flies with no stinger and only one pair of wings, robbers are predators—and giant robbers will attack any insect that flies, including wasps, bees, grasshoppers and dragonflies.

Their prowess stems from their ability to capture prey in flight, overwhelm them with strength, and deliver a deadly bite filled with acidic juices (something normally targeted at the head).  The robber then drinks its meal in peace.

Most robber flies are considered beneficial to a degree in that they target other pests such as flies, beetles and wasps; others are not so beneficial since they target bees and other beneficial insects.

Giant robbers prefer to travel the middle of the road: they target all prey equally so long as it’s large enough, so they might just as easily destroy a local wasp nest as they would a beehive (the former being good and the latter being not so good).

This one happened to perch on the tree outside my patio one day.  When first I spied it, I thought it a bit of dead leaf or other debris stuck to a branch.

Then it flew after a cicada-killer wasp—a female that easily knocked it aside, I might add, for her size dwarfed the fly and gave her a distinct advantage.  That’s when I realized it was something far more interesting than dried vegetation.