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All robber flies have stout, spiny legs, a dense moustache of bristles on the face (mystax), and 3 simple eyes (ocelli) in a characteristic depression between their two large compound eyes. The mystax helps protect the head and face when the fly encounters prey bent on defense. The antennae are short, 3-segmented, sometimes with a bristle-like structure called an arista.
A variety of habitats, but most diverse in dry, open habitats; larvae usually occur in soil or decaying wood.
Adult robber flies attack other flies, beetles, butterflies and moths, various bees, ants, dragon and damselflies, Ichneumon wasps, grasshoppers, and some spiders.