A unique insect has some Central Oregonians concerned and they’re wondering what it is.
“This is a fly that is very different than most flies, in it’s a predator,” said Oregon Bee Atlas volunteer and OSU Extension Pete Pederson.
That predator is what’s called the Robber fly and it’s made for speed.
“It’s the top gun of flight,” said Pederson. “You have to take off, grab the insect and once you grab the insect it can’t get away. Spines on your legs and spines all over your body, help you hold it.”
Its quickness is only one aspect that makes this fly deadly to other insects.
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“You can see a beak that comes out the bottom and that is what delivers the neurotoxins and allows it to suck the material out of the insect later on,” Pederson said.
These predators have been around for hundreds of thousands of years and are everywhere, including the high desert.
“On lunchtime I was walking by these bushes here and I saw a robber fly with a honey bee and it immediately caught my interest,” said Administrative Natural Resources Assistant at OSU extension Lisa Cowan. “I normally see robber flies out and about, but I have never seen them with prey before.”
Yes, these flies hunt bees, as well several other insects like flies, wasps, butterflies, dragonflies and even spiders.
Insect enthusiast Pederson says robber flies don’t seem to be a factor in the decline of the bee population.
“I’ve never heard that there has been any kind of studies that they have had any impact on our honey bees or our native bees,” he said.
‘A local bee product supplier we spoke with off camera says he’s never even heard of these flies and believes they’ve had no significant impact on his bees.
Robber flies pose no harm to humans, but can bite, though it’s rare.
“I think that sometimes what happens is there are so many people looking at things, they’ve never noticed them before,” Pederson said. “So, suddenly they become alarmed like what is that?! When in reality they have been here all along.”