Robber flies and quite a few others out

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I am including some Scarab members on this to introduce them to the email
address to the NWspineless email list, an new insect list I think might be
of interest. The Scarab group meets at the Burke Museum on the 4th Monday of
the month. I'd love to see some of the Scarab group on this list adding
their sightings and expertise. (Hey Allyn, maybe post a general instructions
for  signing on again, then I will save it and forward it as appropriate and
see if I can get it in the Scarab newsletter as well)

I got to watch the robber flies (Asilidae) in action yesterday. This family
has large eyes and the top of the head  is sort of scooped out looking, plus
they have lots of hairs on their front legs and face and a nasty piercing
mouthpiece. GAD I wish I had a better resource for keying these out. Anybody
know a good fly website or resource?

 I think what I was seeing was the genus Efferia, but I have little
confidence in this ID. Anyway, they were doing the classic robber fly perch
high, fly and snatch, then return to perch and eat. There were 5-6 of them
on a early blooming and fragrant Viburnum in my yard. They were after little
green midge-looking bugs which I did not catch. Also the Hover Flies
(Syrphus) were out in force, with maybe three species?, there was one quite
larger and darker than the others and another much smaller. And of course,
GIANT bombus's, bumbling about in the spring sunshine. You could hear them
coming, loudly buzzying from quite a distance away. They would crash land
onto the flowers, causing the other insects to startle. There was a
attractive  moth about, white with black zigzag markings on the forewings,
and that same tiny metallic beetle I have seen in the Indian Plum.  I also
collected a longish dark insect which I can't even figure it to order yet,
but I suspect is a horntail lacking a tail? Sigh.....The trials of an
amateur naturalist lacking good keys to local bugs......My microscope has 8
specimens waiting in line and of course, today is another bug day.

Rob Sandelin
Sky Valley Environments  <>
Field skills training for student naturalists

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