A Wolf in Wasp’s Clothing

Ceraturgus Wasp Mimic Robber Fly

It was some sunny, beautiful New England summer day in late June, when I stumbled upon My Favorite Bug of the Year! It is quite odd for me to find a wasp literally hanging about, drinking a rose chafer beetle like a 3-liter bottle of Coke under the shade of a leaf. It is that much more amazing (for me, once again, heh!) that I get a little closer and realize, it’s not a wasp at all, but rather the most stunning robber fly I have ever seen! I did not know at the time (but probably should have) that there are wasp-mimicking robbers. Given its distinct repast repose, I immediately concluded it was a so-called “Hanging Thief” — but I was wrong. It is definitely one of the wasp mimics of the apparently rarely-sighted Genus Ceraturgus, and I believe it is Ceraturgus fasciatus.

These photos represent why I love shooting bugs: there is always something new to discover; there is a always a reminder of the infinite wonder around us.

Ceraturgus Wasp Mimic Robber Fly

My only disappointment was that my newly-discovered master thief was a wee bit skittish. I managed four or five shots, and the two above, were the best I took, before it flew fast away. Still, I cannot help but look at the elongated and very un-fly-like antennae, a marvelous adaptation of mimicry, and feel pretty lucky to have simply seen it. In the hunt for a great photograph of a bug, it can be easy to forget what a great bug I have found. It was a good lesson because a few days later, I was living the same muddled excitement:

Laphria Bee-like Robber Fly

In many ways it was The Thieving Summer for me. The prolific hunting of robbers were my favorite subjects and some of my best shots (if I may say so). The above Bee-like Robber Fly, of Genus Laphria (possibly Laphria flavicollis or Laphria virginica) was a surprising find, as I had never encountered one before, although I was aware of their existence and had seen other photographers’ captures. I managed to take quite a few more shots of this individual, but unfortunately the overall quality of the shots was worse than those of the Ceraturgus individual. Nonetheless, I drew on my recent if imperfect encounter with the wasp-mimic, and enjoyed the bumblebee-mimic just for having seen it (even if its elongated antennae weren’t so impressive as its cousin’s). One of the best parts of these personal discoveries, was that I found them both at my favorite park-cum-studio where previously I had never seen even the ghost of one. The world in all of its old places is always new. And I have a few less than perfect photos to remind me of it!

Laphria Bee-like Robber Fly


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