Leptogaster cylindrica, copyright Fritz Geller-Grimm.

Belongs within: Asiloidea.
Contains: Dioctriinae, Stenopogoninae, Laphriinae, Dasypogoninae, Apocleinae, Asilinae.

The Asilidae, robber flies, are a group of predatory flies characterised by a moustache of bristles across the lower margin of the face. They are divided between several subfamilies, including the Leptogastrinae which are slender-bodied robber flies lacking alulae or pulvilli. The Trigonomiminae are generally small flies with large 'goggle-eyes' and lacking strong bristles on the thorax (Fisher 2009).

Characters (from Wood 1981): Small (3 mm) to very large (over 50 mm) flies, averaging 9-15 mm in length, long and slender to short, robust, and bee-like. Head with compound eyes large, usually widely separated, equally so in both sexes; eye facets enlarged medially; eye extending dorsally above level of vertex, causing vertex to appear excavated when viewed anteriorly; ocellar tubercle prominent; median ocellus enlarged; vestiture of ocellar tubercle of fine pile, often mixed with bristles. Face extensively developed, often convexly protuberant (gibbous); facial protuberance, or gibbosity, with a characteristic group of stout anteroventrally directed hairs or bristles, the mystax, arranged as a cluster on lower part of face. Clypeus reduced, concave or flat, folded posteroventrally below lower facial margin. Antenna held erect; scape and pedicel each usually with long or short pile, often with stout bristles; first flagellomere elongate or oval, pubescent or tomentose but without pile or bristles, usually longer than either scape or pedicel. Bent apical or subapical stylus usually present on first flagellomere, typically two-segmented, occasionally one-segmented, apparently absent in Laphriinae. A minute spine, often in a pit, present at apex of antenna on either first or succeeding flagellomeres. Mouthparts adapted for stabbing and sucking prey. Mandible absent; stabbing function performed by needle-like hypopharynx that injects a paralyzing saliva. Proboscis elongate, heavily sclerotized, formed from ventromedial fusion of prementum and labella as continuous tube open at apex and dorsomedially, enclosing maxillae and hypopharynx; tip of labella pointed or rounded, usually surrounded with sensory hairs; ventral surface of labella and most of prementum pilose. Palpus usually slender or clavate, setose. Thorax with notopleural, supra-alar, and postalar bristles almost always present; dorsocentral bristles usually present. Scutellum usually pruinose but sometimes shiny, almost always with hairs or bristles along its margin especially at apex; katatergite almost always with a row or group of bristles. Legs raptorial, stout, frequently with numerous stour bristles; all tibiae with several stout bristles at apices. Wing venation with R always four-branched, with R2+3 unbranched. Abdomen with dight segments usually present in both male and female, with remaining two segments incorporated into terminalia. Larva elongate, subcylindrical to somewhat dorsoventrally flattened, often tapering at each end; colour white to yellowish, sometimes with a few fine longitudinal streaks. Head capsule much narrower than prothorax, usually exerted, directed ventrally. Nine abdominal segments apparently present, with eighth and ninth partly fused; length of segments increasing toward seventh. Respiratory system functionally amphipneustic, although vestigial spiracles are present on first seven abdominal segments.

<==Asilidae F09
    |--+--+--Stenopogoninae BT04
    |  |  `--+--Laphriinae BT04
    |  |     `--Dasypogoninae BT04
    |  `--+--+--Apocleinae BT04
    |     |  `--+--Asilinae BT04
    |     |     `--Ommatius F09 [Ommatiinae BT04, Ommatiini]
    |     |          |--O. mackayi ZS10
    |     |          |--O. megacephalus F09
    |     |          `--O. tibialis W81
    |     `--Trigonomiminae [Damalinae, Damalini] F09
    |          |--Haplopogon W81
    |          |--Bromleyus flavidorsus W81
    |          |--Holcocephala BT04
    |          |    |--H. abdominalis BT04
    |          |    `--H. affinis F09
    |          `--Orrhodops F09
    |               |--O. americanus F09
    |               `--O. occidentalis F09
    `--Leptogastrinae [Leptogastridae, Leptogastrini] BT04
         |--Psilonyx annulatus F09 [=Leptogaster (Psilonyx) annulatus W81]
         |--Beameromyia bifida F09
         |--Eurhabdus zephyreus F09
         |--*Tipulogaster glabrata F09 [=Leptogaster (Tipulogaster) glabrata W81]
         |--Apachekolos F09
         |    |--A. crinitus F09 [=Leptogaster (Apachekolos) crinita W81]
         |    `--A. scapularis F09
         |--Schildia F09
         |    |--*S. microthorax F09
         |    |--S. guatemalae F09
         |    `--S. zonae F09
         |--Leptopteromyia F09
         |    |--L. americana F09
         |    |--L. gracilis F09
         |    |--L. mexicanae F09
         |    `--L. peruae F09
         `--Leptogaster F09
              |--*L. cylindrica F09
              |--L. flavipes F09
              |--L. nigricornis K01
              |--L. spinitarsis F09
              `--L. titanus [=Tipulogaster titanus] F09

Asilidae incertae sedis:
  Araripogon axelrodi Grimaldi 1990 RJ93
  Dioctriinae F09
  Stizochimus salinator ZS10
  Brachyrhopala ZS10
  Deromyia discolor BM76
  Coleomyia setigera W81
  Itolia maculata W81
  Sintoria emeralda W81
  Hodophylax W81
  Parataracticus W81
  Willistonina bilineata W81
  Nannocyrtopogon neoculatus W81
  Metapogon gilvipes W81
  Callinicus pollenius W81
  Backomyia limpidipennis W81
  Pritchardomyia vespoides W81
  Lophonotus punctipennis K01
  Eutolmus sedakoffi K01
  Phinocus BW09
  Habropogon [Eremocneminae] J61
    |--H. appendiculatus J61
    |--H. exquisitus J61
    `--H. striatus J61
  Selidopogon [Acanthocneminae] J61
    |--S. crassus J61
    |--S. diadema J61
    `--S. octonotatus J61
  Codula limbipennis C91
  Chrysopogon crabroniformis C91
  Borapisma O98
  Cenochromyia O98
  Clariola O98
  Dichaetothyrea O98
  Epaphroditus O98
  Ophionomima O98

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BM76] Bohart, R. M., & A. S. Menke. 1976. Sphecid Wasps of the World. University of California Press: Berkeley.

[BW09] Buck, M., N. E. Woodley, A. Borkent, D. M. Wood, T. Pape, J. R. Vockeroth, V. Michelsen & S. A. Marshall. 2009. Key to Diptera families—adults. In: Brown, B. V., A. Borkent, J. M. Cumming, D. M. Wood, N. E. Woodley & M. A. Zumbado (eds) Manual of Central American Diptera vol. 1 pp. 95–156. NRC Research Press: Ottawa.

[BT04] Bybee, S. M., S. D. Taylor, C. R. Nelson & M. F. Whiting. 2004. A phylogeny of robber flies (Diptera: Asilidae) at the subfamilial level: molecular evidence. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 30: 789–797.

[C91] CSIRO. 1991. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers 2nd ed. vol. 1. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

[F09] Fisher, E. M. 2009. Asilidae (robber flies, assassin flies, moscas cazadoras, moscas ladronas). In: Brown, B. V., A. Borkent, J. M. Cumming, D. M. Wood, N. E. Woodley & M. A. Zumbado (eds) Manual of Central American Diptera vol. 1 pp. 585–632. NRC Research Press: Ottawa.

[J61] Janssens, E. 1961. Sur quelques asilides mediterranees. Boll. Mus. Civ. Venezia 14: 29–36.

[K01] Kertész, K. 1901. Legyek [Dipteren]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 179–201. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[O98] Oosterbroek, P. 1998. The Families of Diptera of the Malay Archipelago. Brill: Leiden.

[RJ93] Ross, A. J., & E. A. Jarzembowski. 1993. Arthropoda (Hexapoda; Insecta). In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 363–426. Chapman & Hall: London.

[W81] Wood, G. C. 1981. Asilidae. In: McAlpine, J. F., B. V. Peterson, G. E. Shewell, H. J. Teskey, J. R. Vockeroth & D. S. Wood (eds) Manual of Nearctic Diptera vol. 1 pp. 549–573. Research Branch, Agriculture Canada.

[ZS10] Zborowski, P., & R. Storey. 2010. A Field Guide to Insects in Australia 3rd ed. Reed New Holland: Sydney.

Last updated: 9 January 2021.

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