Karina Bellavia '22 is a biology major with an interest in entomology. During her summer research, she studied the behavior of the robber fly species Lasiopogon currani at Glenmeal State Forest, NY. Karina is continuing her research as an Honors thesis throughout her senior year. She also plans to attend graduate school and pursue a PhD in Ecology after graduation. In her free time, she enjoys road cycling, hiking, baking, and looking at insects in the wild.
Robber flies (Order: Diptera, Family: Asilidae) are a widely distributed family of predacious flies. They are considered to be top-level predators crucial to suppressing various insect populations, however the ecology and behavior of the species Lasiopogon currani has received minimal attention. We conducted a study of L. currani underneath a disturbed powerlines area in Pierrepont, St. Lawrence County to determine insect diversity, potential prey, and behavioral patterns. We found that the insect diversity of the powerlines study site included representatives of eight orders. We also found that 88.5% and 88.1% of specimens collected from the malaise trap and pan traps could be considered as potential prey. Furthermore, we observed a positive correlation between L. currani abundance and the abundance of their potential prey during the peak of the adult season. Lastly, we observed that L. currani exhibit multiple behavioral traits that can be categorized as; predation, test flights, positional rotation, mating, preening, and aggression. Throughout the observation period, we observed L. currani consuming mosquitoes and black flies. Because black flies are an annoyance for humans and mosquitoes are vectors of diseases, it is important to know that L. currani can suppress these pests as it can be explored in later research.