Robber Fly eating a Yellowjacket

While exploring the “northern wetland” at Huntley Meadows Park, a pair of insects landed on my upper thigh: a female Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes), a species of Robber Fly (Family Asilidae), eating a Yellowjacket (Vespula sp.). The pair was too close to photograph, so I gently “shooed” them away — fortunately they landed on a nearby cattail leaf!

A Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes), a species of robber fly (Family Asilidae), eating a Yellowjacket (Vespula sp.) at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Robber Fly eating a Yellowjacket

Robber Flies feed mainly on other insects.

The fly attacks its prey by stabbing it with its short, strong proboscis injecting the victim with saliva containing neurotoxic and proteolytic enzymes which very rapidly paralyze the victim and soon digest the insides; the fly then sucks the liquefied material through the proboscis. Source Credit: Asilidae, from Wikipedia.

A Red-footed Cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes), a species of robber fly (Family Asilidae), eating a Yellowjacket (Vespula sp.) at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Robber Fly eating a Yellowjacket

Thanks to BugGuide Facebook group members James W. Beck for verifying my identification of the Robber Fly, and to Ian Kho for definitely identifying the genus of Yellowjacket and tentatively identifying its species.

[The] Yellowjacket is in the genus Vespula. Mostly yellow face suggests V. maculifrons/flavopilosa. Source Credit: Ian Kho.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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8 Responses to “Robber Fly eating a Yellowjacket”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Spectacular action shots of one of my favorite insects–there is something both cool and creepy about a name like “red-footed cannibalfly.”

  2. Christy Turner Says:

    Great shots Walter. It seems to me that your photography is evolving and getting very precise. I’m sensing you might have an illustrated bug book in you!

  3. Sue Says:

    Nice shots, Walter. I love to see the yellow jacket population reduced some. They are such a nuisance at outdoor picnics in the fall.

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