Laphria

Laphria are often bee mimics, but they aren’t the only ones (e.g. Mallophora). Laphria are thought to specialize on beetles because their vertically flattened mouthparts can fit between a beetle’s elytra. The larvae are predators of insects living in rotten wood. Most species have a short flight season in Florida, and all except for Laphria affinis are spring fliers in Florida.

Be sure to check out Laphriini by Stephen Bullington, a website devoted to Laphria of the U.S. His eastern key.

Visual Index

Laphria saffrana

I made this image comparing Laphria saffrana to a southern yellowjacket queen. I added the Laphria’s wings to the queen wasp for fun.

This is an excellent mimic of a southern yellowjacket (Vespula squamosa) queen and is found in pinewoods. I still love Herschel’s name, Deathshead Bumblethief, because the top of the thorax looks like a cartoon skull. The thorax has yellow hairs, but the abdomen is orange. Orange legs.

Size: 16-25 mm

Range: Southeastern US north to VA and west to TX

FL Range: Throughout, though more common in central Florida and north

FL Season: late February-May

Laphria affinis

Yellow hairs on thorax and legs. Black hairs on abdomen. This is our only autumn-flying species.

Size: 15-24 mm

Range: Eastern U.S.

FL range: Panhandle (Jefferson County) and Central Florida (Marion County)

Season: September-early December

FL season: October

Laphria apila

Male is lacking yellow hairs in the center of the thoracic disk (a bald spot). Abdomen has yellow hairs on sides but not the center (a bald stripe).

Size: 28-35 mm

Range: Southeastern U.S.

FL range: Panhandle (Escambia, Okaloosa, Franklin, Liberty Counties) and Central Florida (Seminole, Orange)

FL season: late March-June

Laphria cinerea

There are tufts of pale yellow hairs on the head, legs, and in front of the wings, but the top of the thorax (scutum) is sparsely haired and only the tip of the abdomen has yellow hairs.

Found in pine forests and are nearly always found perching on pine trunks or pine logs.

Size: 10-16 mm

Range: Eastern U.S. and Canada

FL range: North Florida (Columbia and Alachua Counties), likely also Panhandle

FL season: January, March, and May

Laphria divisor

Similar in size to L. flavicollis, but has yellow hairs near tip of abdomen.

Size: 11-18 mm

Range: Eastern U.S. and Canada

FL range: North and Central Florida (Alachua, Levy, and Hillsborough Counties)

FL season: February-May

Laphria flavicollis

Small with yellow hairs on the thorax and a black abdomen. Unlike L. virginica, L. flavicollis has a tuft of yellow hairs on the side of the first abdominal segment and long yellow bristles on the scuttelum (rear of thorax).

Size: 11-20 mm

Range: Eastern U.S. and Canada

FL range: Panhandle and North Florida (Wakulla, Leon, Jefferson, Union, Alachua Counties)

FL season: April-May

Laphria virginica

Small with yellow hairs on the thorax and a black abdomen. No tuft of yellow hairs on the side of the first abdominal segment and black hairs on scuttelum (rear of thorax). Occurs in pinewoods.

Size: 13-20 mm

Range: Eastern U.S.

FL range: Panhandle and Peninsula south to Lee County

FL season: March-May

Laphria “floridensis” / macquarti

“[Laphria floridensis] is very similar to Laphria maquartii, but differs in having an predominantly yellow mystax, more yellow on the prothoracic tibiae, and yellow instead of black hairs on the dorsal side of the hind or mesothoracic femora, that is, on the first long “joint” of the hind legs. It also usually has only the first three rather than the first four abdominal tergites yellow.” Bullington

Size: 22-27 mm

macquarti Range: Texas to Georgia

“floridensis” Range: NC to FL and west to LA

FL range: Panhandle, North, and Central Florida

FL season: February-June

Laphria grossa

Tufts of hair in front of wings mostly or entirely black. Abdominal segment 1 entirely black haired. Abdominal segment 3 with yellow hairs medially; these hairs may be partially rubbed off in some older males.

Differs from L. lata because tufts of hair in front of halteres entirely dull yellow

Size: 23-35 mm

Range: Eastern U.S. and Canada

FL range: Panhandle and North Florida (Liberty and Putnam County)

FL season: March-April

Check out this incredible photo by John Abbott of L. grossa in flight

Laphria lata

Tufts of hair in front of wings mostly or entirely black. Abdominal segment 1 entirely black haired. Abdominal segment 3 with yellow hairs medially; these hairs may be partially rubbed off in some older males.

Differs from L. grossa because tufts of hair in front of halteres with some black

Like Laphria apila, there is a yellow form and an orange form.

Size: 27-39 mm

Range: Central and southeastern U.S. Supposedly it has been recorded in Florida, but I can’t track down any records.

Season: April-August

Laphria thoracica

Yellow hairs in front of wings and on scutum (top of thorax). Black mystax, abdomen black, legs with black hairs

Size: 15-20 mm

Range: Eastern U.S. and Canada. May occur in Northern Florida.

Season: April-August throughout range

Laphria canis complex

Photo by Rory Wills (iNaturalist, CC BY-NC)

This is a small, dark species complex that could be confused with robbers in other genera such as Pogonosoma dorsatum or Orthogonis stygia. Within the complex, they are only distinguishable by examination of the genitalia, so many photos cannot be identified.

Laphria canis has a very wide genitalic bulb, wider than the distal abdominal tergites. L. sicula and winnemana have a much narrower one compared to the distal abdominal segments.’ (Bugguide)
See genitalic differences below.

Laphria canis

Very wide male genitalic bulb, wider than the distal abdominal tergites

Size: 7-12 mm

Range: Eastern U.S. and Canada

FL range: Panhandle (Liberty County, reported in Bullington (1986)) and possibly North Florida (Alachua County)

FL season: May

Laphria sicula

Male genitalic bulb much narrower than L. canis.

Size: 7-14 mm

Range: Eastern U.S. and Canada

FL range: Panhandle and North Florida (Jackson, Liberty, Levy, Alachua Counties)

FL season: May-June

Photo by Steve Daniel from San Felasco in Alachua County.

Laphria index

Orange hairs on abdomen, but thorax mostly shining black with narrow golden median hairs. See genitalic differences below.

This is nearly identical to L. ithypyga, but the male genital bulb is smaller in L. ithypyga. L. ithypyga has not been recorded in Florida, but it is known from northern Georgia.

Size: 12-18 mm

Range: Eastern and Northwestern U.S. and Canada

FL Range: One record from the panhandle (Leon County) and one specimen at FSCA from Alachua County listed as L. scorpio.

Season: June

Laphria sericea

Orange hairs on thorax and abdomen. See genitalic differences below.

McAtee (1918) lists a record for Florida housed at the U.S. National Museum. Nearly identical to L. aktis and an undescribed species. Bullington (1986) only shows L. sericea and aktis as far south as northern Georgia, however.

Size: 16-25 mm

Range: Eastern U.S. and Canada

Season: late March-August

References

Baker, N. T. (1970). A taxonomic and ecologic study of the asilidae of Michigan (Doctoral dissertation, Michigan State University. Department of Entomology).

Bullington, S.W. (1986). Two new genera related to Laphria Meigen (Diptera: Asilidae), with revisions of the included species in North America north of Mexico. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, 275 pp.

McAtee, W. L. (1918). Key to the Nearctic species of the genus Laphria (Diptera, Asilidae).

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