Megaphorus

Megaphorus devouring a drone Florida harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex badius)

Similar to Mallophora but much smaller, Megaphorus are fuzzy all over. There are three species in Florida: clausicellus, laphroides, and minutus. They are found in open, sandy areas without trees. They are often locally abundant in these habitats.

Early literature often refers to Megaphorus as Mallophorina or as a subgenus of Mallophora.

Megaphorus clausicellus

This is the easier one to identify in the southeast because it’s very yellow on the thorax, abdomen, femora, and tibiae. The only white hairs are on the head/face (mystax, beard, and occiput). The mystax (hairs on front of face) can be yellowish white. Though the abdominal segments (tergites) show black, there are no black hairs on the abdominal segments.

Hind femora usually with all yellow hairs, rarely a few black hairs intermixed. Front tibiae lacking patch of white pile anteriorly, found in laphroides. Tibiae are yellow-red, and tarsi are black. The yellow-red hind tibiae contrast strongly with black bases.

The genitalia are orange with yellow hairs.

Length: 11-12 mm

Range in Florida: Panhandle and north Florida

Season: July – October

Megaphorus minutus

Both Megaphorus minutus and laphroides have short, black pile on several of the abdominal tergites, which distinguish them from all other Megaphorus. Megaphorus clausicellus have black on the abdominal tergites, but it isn’t covered with black pile. This can be difficult to see on such a small species, even in the best photos.

To distinguish M. minutus from laphroides, focus on size of specimens. M. minutus is 9-10 mm, and laphroides is 13-14 mm. So smaller than most Megaphorus in minutus, and larger than most Megaphorus in laphroides.

According to Cole & Pritchard (1964), the hind tibiae are black-haired dorsally over the entire length in male minutus, whereas the tibiae are yellow-haired at the base in male laphroides. Females of minutus have a few yellow hairs on the outside basal half of the hind tibiae, so it seems that females may only be identified based on length or association with males.

palpi covered in dark hairs above, but white or yellow hairs below. Unfortunately this trait is nearly impossible to see in the field and on photos because the palpi are usually obscured by other hairs.

The genitalia are brownish red with yellow hairs.

Length: 9-10 mm

FL Range: Throughout. This is supposed to be more common in Florida than M. laphroides.

Season: April – October

Megaphorus laphroides

Both Megaphorus minutus and laphroides have short, black pile on several of the abdominal tergites.

To distinguish M. minutus from laphroides, focus on size of specimens. M. minutus is 9-10 mm, and laphroides is 13-14 mm.

According to Cole & Pritchard (1964), the hind tibiae have yellow hairs at their base in male laphroides, whereas the tibiae are entirely black-haired in male minutus. Females of minutus have a few yellow hairs on the outside basal half of the hind tibiae, so it seems that females may only be identified based on length or association with males. Like M. clausicellus, the bottom of the hind tibiae are black with black hairs, and the extent of black seems to be greater than M. minutus.

palpi entirely covered by dark hairs in laphroides. Unfortunately this trait is nearly impossible to see in the field and on photos because the palpi are usually obscured by other hairs.

The genitalia are brownish red with yellow hairs.

Length: 13-14 mm

FL Range: Throughout, south to Martin County, based on museum specimens. I have not confirmed all are correctly identified, however. Cole & Pritchard (1964) list Florida specimens from Escambia County and Alachua County.

Season: May – September

References:

Cole, F. R., & Pritchard, A. E. (1964). The Genus Mallophora and Related Asilid Genera in North America:(Diptera: Asilidae). University of California Press.

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