As much as I like working the soil and watching our garden grow, I’m not entirely fond of the insects I run into. However, it’s important to know which insects I should toss to Rosie, our chicken and garden ‘helper’, and which ones should be allowed to run free. A few weeks ago, I was standing among our tomatoes and spotted a nasty looking bug. My first instinct was to squash it, but then I thought I should see what bug it was. So I pull out my phone, went to the Seek app, and snapped a photo … Efferia aestuans, also known as a robber fly.

Now this is not a pretty bug and I’m glad I looked it up because I would have thought it to be a bad garden bug, but it turns out to be a beneficial bug. Robber flies should be a welcome sight in your garden, but their bee-like appearance and aggressive nature can leave gardeners wondering, “Are robber flies dangerous?”

Robber flies are distant relatives of the common housefly and their appearance can be somewhat frightening as they are a big, hairy, humped flying insect. Robber fly insects are a mixed blessing to gardeners; if they’re seriously perturbed, they can inflict a painful bite and they do prey on beneficial insects too. But most gardeners tolerate this visitor, even if they do munch a few butterflies or bees, as the extensive pest control they will provide in your garden and landscape far outweighs the damage they do to a few other individual beneficial insects. They help rid the garden of harmful pests like grasshoppers, other flies, wasps, leafhoppers, white grubs, and pupating beetles.

So, when you spot one in your garden just be kind and don’t upset it.

Read more about robber flies at Gardening Know How online at

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