Devon Red-legged Robberfly

Fast Facts

Latin name: Neomochtherus pallipes

Notable feature: A robberfly with almost entirely red-orange legs, topped with a distinctive dark streak on its thigh (femora)

Conservation Status: Not Evaluated

Where in the UK: It was first recorded at Woodcombe, near Prawle Point, South Devon in 1990. A new population was discovered at Haughmond Hill in Shropshire in 2016. A species of dry grasslands, it requires sandy soils and plenty of warm, south-facing slopes supporting sparse vegetation and scrub.

Devon Red-legged Robberfly (Neomochtherus_pallipes) © Carsten Siegel CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Devon Red-legged Robberfly (Neomochtherus pallipes) is a native robberfly in the family Asilidae.

The Devon Red-legged Robberfly, as its name would suggest, has almost entirely red-orange legs, topped with a distinctive dark streak on its thigh (femora).

It has beautiful brush-like antennae and is found amongst the lichen, roots and mosses of sandpits, and sand dunes within heathland.  It is widespread but highly localised around the coast of the UK on coastal dunes and occasional sand pits.

In England it has a largely coastal distribution with records on the east and north-west coasts, but a cluster of inland Breckland records. It is found on a number of coastal sites in Wales, but is known in Scotland only from the Dornoch Firth.

Relatively little is currently known about the Brush-horned Sand Beetle, as evidenced by the gaps in our knowledge below.

  • Size: 11-15mm in length
  • Life span: The Devon Red-legged Robberfly has an annual lifecycle, with British adults generally recorded in July and August
  • Diet: Little is known of its diet, but outside the UK adults are known to prey on flies and small moths, with larvae feeding on particular beetle larvae.
  • Reproduction: Unknown
  • When to see: Adult Devon Red-legged Robberfly are generally recorded in July and August
  • Population Trend: Unknown. Its status is uncertain with all of its Devon records from 1990 and the Shropshire population new and infrequently recorded. It appears stable across its European range.
  • Threats:  Loss of dry, south-facing grasslands and cliffs, including from scrub invasion and shading.
  • Fun Fact: Patches of rocks are much-loved basking spots for the Devon Red-legged Robberfly.

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