Most adult asilids are easily recognised by their generally robust build, spined legs, large eyes, and distinctly ‘moustached’ face. They are strong predators of other insects on the wing. Their larvae are believed to attack other insect larvae in soil or decaying wood. It is possible that some asilid larvae predate inside galls.
Tasmania has over 40 described species of robberflies, representing around 11% of the known Australian fauna*. The vast majority are shared with the mainland, however the unusually delicate Leptogaster (Leptogastrinae) appears to have a strong endemic content. The Cerdistus-Neoitamus complex of species (Asilinae) are most numerous, accounting for around a quarter of known Tasmanian asilids.
*Note: these figures are rubbery as most Tasmanian robber flies, like many of the showy insect families from Australia, were described by early taxon workers overseas – many groups within are in dire need of modern revisions.
Quick Genera Links – those unlinked we have not documented.
Austrosaropogon Bathypogon Brachyrhopala Cabasa Cerdistus-Neoitamus complex Colepia Daptolestes Dasypogon Erythropogon Humorolethalis Laphria Leptogaster Maira Neoaratus Neoitamus Neoscleropogon Ommatius Zosteria
The Tasmanian Asilinae representatives can be distinguished from Dasypogoninae, Stenopogoninae, and Bathypogoninae by the closed petiolate marginal cell (r1) of the wings, from Ommatiinae by the antennae style not being feathered, from Laphriinae by not being largely dark metallic blue or violet, and from Leptogastrinae by a more robust build.
This subfamily contains only the genus Bathypogon which is easily distinguished by their shorter wings which appear unusually reduced in length relative to their bodies. These asilids are ground based predators.
For general subfamily comments see those under Dasypogoninae below.
Asilids in Dasypogoninae and Brachyrhopalinae have a developed spur at the apex of the foretibiae. Many are great mimics of wasps. All Tasmanian these two subfamilies have the marginal cell (r1) open (ie not clearly closed before the wing margin). This also occurs in Bathypogoninae and Stenopogoninae, however asilids in these subfamilies can be easily recognised as described in their respective sections.
All Tasmanian species from this subfamily are largely black to metallic dark blue or violet.
These are unusually delicate, slender looking asilids with generally a clubbed abdomen, and fore and mid legs reduced. Described Tasmanian species range in body lengths from 7.5mm to 15mm.
The members of Ommatiinae are notable for their feathered antennae styles. This feathering is in the form of thin hairs along the length of the style, and which are generally positioned on the underside.
Only Neoscleropogon is thought to occur in Tasmania. These are large asilids with narrow face and abundant long, fine hairs on their femora and sides of the thorax.
Daniels, G. 1987. A revision of Neoaratus Ricardo, with the description of six allied new genera from the Australian region (Diptera: Asilidae: Asilini). Invertebrate Taxonomy 1: 473-592.
Daniels, G. 2011. Family Asilidae. In: Evenhuis, NL (ed.), Catalog of the Diptera of the Australasian and Oceanian Regions. (online version). Available at: http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/aocat/asilidae.html. Last accessed: 6 February 2012.
Hardy, G. H. 1928. Revisional notes on robber flies of the genus Stenopogon (Diptera; Asilidae). Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 39: 119-123.
Lavigne, R. 2009. Australian Asilidae. (online resource). Available at: https://sites.google.com/site/australianasilidae/home. Last accessed: 15 December 2019.
Papavero, N. 1973. Studies of Asilidae (Diptera) systematics and evolution. I. A preliminary classification in subfamilies. Arquivos de Zoologia, San Paulo 23: 217-74.
Paramonov, S. J. 1958. A review of Australian species of Laphria (Asilidae, Diptera), with descriptions of three new species from Lord Howe Island. Pacific Science 12: 92-105.
White, A. 1917. The Diptera-Brachycera of Tasmania. Part III. Families Asilidae, Bombylidae, Empidae, Dolichopodidae, & Phoridae. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 1916: 148-266.
White, A. 1918. New Australian Asilidae, with notes on the classification of the Asilinae. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 1917: 72–103.