Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Bee Killer Fly

Mallophora fautrix


Large, robust, yellow and black furry Robber Fly about 2.5 cm long eating a Western Yellowjacket. This fly mimics a bumble bee.


Landed on a Cape Honeysuckle branch under bamboo in the backyard. These prefer open, sunny locations where they await on twigs for passing prey. This is the only species in this genus in California. The genus Mallophora can be found in most southern states of the US down south to South America.


"They will hunt just about any flying insect but favored prey seem to be honey bees, Apis mellifera, which are taken on the wing as they visit flowers. The fly pierces the bee with bladelike mouth parts just behind the head into the thorax, immobilizing by severing the thoracic nerve, and carrying it back to its perch, drinks it dry." - Don McIntire Aka Robber Fly. I shot this with my compact Canon PowerShot G12 using the scene mode of Kids & Pets and manual focus.

1 Species ID Suggestions

AnthonyGreen 12 years ago
Sacken's Bee Hunter
Laphria sackeni

Sign in to suggest organism ID

59 Comments (1–25)

suikatasai 3 months ago

Saw one of these in San Joaquin County California today. It was eating a honeybee.

Hello Eric, I am so happy you are enjoying Project Noah!
I'm not sure how common they are as I've only seen this species one other time in my area. I hope you find many more and get to enjoy their beauty again.

Eric Davisson
Eric Davisson 8 years ago

I encountered one of these (Bee Killer Fly - Mallophora fautrix) today with no idea what it was until finding this information. It was not attacking anything at the time. It wasn't apparent why it was around. However, it was possibly attracted to the outdoor light as it was night time when it was spotted. Thanks for sharing the great website!

SleepyMaggie 9 years ago

Thanks! It's nice to know they really aren't a significant problem for bees. The one I saw was munching a bumblebee, and I saw him (or his twin) again today trying to get a grip on a honeybee. I know I shouldn't have, but I interfered and broke it up (I think the honeybee got away safely!) Wouldn't it be nice if these guys would eat squash bugs or Japanese beetles instead? :)

Hi SleepyMaggie, I'm so very glad you found our site! There are so many wonderful organisms to discover here :)
This spotting was very exciting for me since it was the first time I had seen this species. I have only seen it once, since. Their overall numbers are too small to have a significant impact on the bee population. There are other factors such as pesticides that are doing that.
That being said, I was relieved that this fly captured a Yellowjacket rather than a bee!

SleepyMaggie 9 years ago

I saw one of these yesterday for the first time ever, and my Google search led me here (which I'm glad about - what an awesome site!) The one I saw was devouring a bumblebee, which made me very sad, as our bees are having a hard enough time as it is. I mean - they are very cool bugs, but I still hope we aren't about to start having a lot of them around here! Are they - or are they starting to become - part of the disappearing bee problem?

Thank you for the comment, TicThapanya!

TicThapanya 10 years ago

amazing short, very interesting action of Bee Killer Fly.

Thank you Carol :)

Carol Snow Milne
Carol Snow Milne 10 years ago

Nice to see this again! Wonderful!

:) Thanks Gerardo! It's one of my favorites.

Gerardo Aizpuru
Gerardo Aizpuru 10 years ago

Wow extraordinary series Cindy :)

Thank you Sachin and Leuba!

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 10 years ago

This is just great, Cindy - definitely worth having a look at some of the old spottings.

Sachin Zaveri
Sachin Zaveri 10 years ago

Wonderful series,,

Thank you Ferrets, Sukaina and Joshua. This is the coolest fly I've spotted and is still one of my favorite spottings.

Josh Asel
Josh Asel 11 years ago

normally flys suck- but this one eats yellow jackets :)

Sukaina 11 years ago

Amazing Cindy!

Ferrets 11 years ago

so lovely~

Thank you matimar1!

Ashish Nimkar
Ashish Nimkar 11 years ago

Cindy these Robber flies are so kind and they hunt only when they find where their prey is available easily. I never see them making mob and attack in group.

Ashish Nimkar
Ashish Nimkar 11 years ago

@jgorneau Human is not Organism as all other lives can live without Human as long they can but Human is totally dependent on all them, so Human is separated from Web of Life of the Earth.

Thank you for your comments! Ashish, that is a great way to look at it. This fly is harmless unless I was to injure it or take its meal but then most animals (including us) would behave that way. This remains my favorite spotting. :)

Jolly Ibañez
Jolly Ibañez 11 years ago

Incredible detail. It pays to be patient even with a manual focus camera. Your effort is well worth it.

Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 11 years ago

Hi Ashish,
I think that is a perfect way to look at organisms that way. Yes, humans have destroyed the habitats of many organisms, which has provoked them to harm us, therefore we are the direct cause of harm, for the organism was simply defending itself. I agree, with the technology we have now, we are becoming more and more dangerous. We can destroy forests in simply days--it is just horrible. Ashish, you are right. Humans are the most dangerous organism.

Escondido, California, United States

Spotted on Sep 6, 2011
Submitted on Sep 6, 2011

Related Spottings

Robber Fly Robber fly Bee Killer Florida Bee Killer

Nearby Spottings

Spotting (Dead) False Black Widow Leafhopper Assassin Bug Orb Weaver
Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team