Laphria cinerea!

Laphria cinera is found throughout the eastern U.S. in pine forests, though its range stops short of most of Florida. There are only a few previous records in north Florida. I’m not certain if it is truly scarce, or if it simply flies early in the year in a specialized habitat and may be overlooked.

They are nearly always found perching on pine trunks or logs. On March 10, 2023 I stopped at this log in Pine Log State Forest (fitting name) in Washington County, FL because I thought it looked perfect for Laphria cinerea, and it was! This single log had three Laphria saffrana and a male Laphria cinerea.

I’ve wanted to see this species for years, and I didn’t want to blow my chance at a photo. It was one of those moments where I ignored the possibility of kneeling in ants, I ignored the horse fly buzzing around my head, and I didn’t breathe.

Beauty! The Laphria actually watched the horsefly buzzing around my head, and it flew up and struck it a couple times, even though the Laphria was smaller than the horsefly. L. cinerera ranges from 10-16 mm. Good guy robber fly.

The pale yellow and patchy hairs are distinctive for Laphria cinerea. All femora and tibiae have yellow hairs, but it alternates with limited black hairs making the legs almost appear banded. The scutum (top of the thorax) is partly bare and shining with only limited yellow and black hairs — almost like it’s balding. It has pale yellow on the first abdominal segment (hard to see) but also the last two.

The only other Florida species that has yellow hairs on the last two abdominal segments is Laphria divisor, but that species has darker yellow hairs overall, denser on the scutum, and shorter hairs on the legs. The hairs on the rear tibiae of L. divisor are black, whereas they are yellow in L. cinerea. The hairs on the scutellum are black in L. cinerea and yellow in divisor.

This may represent the first record for the Florida panhandle.

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