EXPLORE #162 on August 30, 2009 ~
A robber fly poised on top of a Black-eyed Susan waiting for his next victim. Photographed on July 30, 2009 at the Grapevine Botanical Gardens in Grapevine, Texas. There are about 1,000 species of robber flies in the U.S. I believe this one is the species "Diogmites neoternatus." They are known for their very orange color.
A robberfly is capable of immobilizing bees, wasps and other insects larger than itself. Robber flies catch their prey in mid air. As with other aerial predators, robberflies have excellent vision, characterized by two conspicuous compound eyes.
The mouthparts of this family have been modified to a stabbing proboscis. This dagger-like shaft is used to stab the victim in the head or thorax and inject a fluid which kills it. This fluid, apparently, soon causes the victim’s "insides" to become liquid and the robber fly, on some favorite perch, then proceeds to suck it dry, leaving nothing but an empty shell.