Cicada killer wasp, a native insect. Photo: Darrell Orsot, Moss Bluff, LA
A robber fly, a possible predator of honeybees. Photo: Pam Archer, DeRidder, LA.
Long-legged assassin bug with its prey, a honeybee. Photo: Joe Haraminac.
A concerned beekeeper sent an urgent email with clear pictures, “This is Darrell… out here in Moss Bluff LA[, and] I think I just killed a murder hornet.”
The “murder hornet” or the Asian giant hornet was in the news in 2020 because, according to The Extension service of Washington State University, “They aggressively attack honeybees and a small group of them can destroy an entire colony, and as such are a serious concern for beehives and native pollinators. AGH can be confused with other species in the same genus so positive identification is needed to confirm their presence.”
Darrell had a native insect, the cicada killer wasp (CKW). Bentley Fitzpatrick, an Extension Agent with the LSU AgCenter, writes about the cicada killer, “The eastern cicada killer wasp, Sphecius speciosus, is a large, solitary digger wasp that typically appears in Louisiana mid to late July. It is a beneficial insect that is a predator of cicadas, which it stings and stuns to store in her burrow to feed her larvae.” CKW is NOT a predator of honeybees.
After AHA identified this insect, Darrell responded, “OK thanks. I was worried because I do have bees and comparing it to a picture on the Internet, they look [similar]. Thanks again.”
Pam asked for an identification of an insect in her home, “Can you ID this bug for me? Several have come in the house lately. Do they bite or sting?”
This fierce-looking insect has a couple of violent names: robbery fly or assassin fly. Despite its appearance and name, it is a beneficial insect because it is a predator of insects. If it is mishandled, it can inflict a painful bite.
However, Agrilife Extension of Texas A&M University make this observation about the robbery fly, “Adults prey on a variety of arthropods [and are] considered to be beneficial insects, except for those that feed on bees and other beneficial insects.”
Joe captured an action shot of a predatory insect attacking a honeybee.
The insect in the image is a long-legged assassin bug, and like the robber fly, it is considered beneficial because it feeds on harmful insects, except when it feeds on beneficial insects like honeybees and other pollinator insects.
In general, these predatory insects have little impact on healthy hives because there are surplus bees and only a few bees are lost during their foraging flights. .
If you want to contact “Beehive Buzz,” please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 318.264.2448 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Also, you can be on the “beemail” email list by emailing your request to the address above.
“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”
“Mention of trade names or commercial products and services in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”