April 30, 2020

New Website: Robber Flies of the World

Today is World Robber Fly Day, and I can't think of a better time to announce the launch of my new website, Robber Flies of the World: https://www.robberfliesoftheworld.com.

As the name suggests, it covers all 7,200+ known species of these venomous predators, and focuses on their taxonomy, natural history and identification. My hope is that in the future it will become the go-to reference for just about anything pertaining to robber flies.

This has been a passion project of mine over the past 6 years or so. Because I decided to build it from the ground up, I've had to learn how to write and use HTML5, PHP, CSS, Javascript, and MySQL. While this means that I have had full control over the appearance and functionality of the site, it also means that there may be some uncaught bugs or glitches. I will continue to tweak and improve the site's appearance and performance over time, so let me know if you encounter any issues!

Robber Flies of the World currently has three main features:

  • Taxon Pages: Browse through every accepted subfamily, tribe, genus, and species. Over time each taxon page will be updated with diagnostic photographs and information pertaining to it's identification and natural history.
  • Species Catalog: Search by subfamily, tribe, genus, zoogeographic region, country and state to generate a catalog of species that match those criteria. Only accepted taxa are included, with junior synonyms listed for the relevant taxa.
  • Taxon Database: Search for a subfamily, tribe, genus, or species from a database of every known name used in Asilidae (over 12,00 records).

These are all generated from a MySQL database, which will allow me to quickly and easily modify classifications or add taxa as new taxonomic and phylogenetic studies are published.

The next big feature to be added to the website is the literature database, which will be incorporated into the taxon pages, species catalog, and taxon database as well as have a dedicated query page. Other major planned features include a predator-prey database, dichotomous keys, and matrix-based keys.

I hope you will find Robber Flies of the World to be a useful addition to your toolkit, and I look forward to your feedback!

If you want to get involved in the holiday festivities, consider posting your robber fly photos to Twitter with the hashtag #WorldRobberFlyDay ( https://twitter.com/search?q=%23WorldRobberFlyDay).

Posted on April 30, 2020 14:10 by myelaphus myelaphus | 15 comments | Leave a comment

May 24, 2019

Species Complexes in Asilidae

I'm considering adding a few species complexes to the iNat taxonomy for Asilidae, particularly for North American Laphria and Efferia. Is this something that people would find useful? Does anyone have reservations about unranked taxa?

Which complexes would you like to see added?

iNat guidelines for complexes:
https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/curator+guide#complexes

Some discussions about species complexes for reference:
https://www.inaturalist.org/flags/346662
https://www.inaturalist.org/flags/331324
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-are-species-complexes-treated/404

Three complexes added so far:
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/894751-Laphria-canis
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/894742-Laphria-sericea
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/894746-Laphria-index

To find a complex, search for the species name included in the respective link above, and the complex will be one of the two choices.

Posted on May 24, 2019 21:16 by myelaphus myelaphus | 15 comments | Leave a comment

February 21, 2019

Key to Dicranus

Adapted from Carrera, 1955. Carrera did not have access to specimens of D. jaliscoensis, so this key will need to be modified/updated.

1a Mystax yellow; legs entirely yellow or with black spots……2
1b Mystax and legs entirely black………….nigerrimus
2a Black bristles and hairs on the lateral margins of the mesonotum; abdominal tergites 2-4 with grey pollen on the sides of the posterior margins; the last three tarsal joints black…..3
2b Yellow bristles and hairs on the lateral margins of the mesonotum; abdominal tergites 2-4 with
thick yellow pilosity on the sides of the posterior margins ; all tarsi yellow……rutilus
3a Anterior tibiae yellow with an elongated black spot on the ventral surface ; black bristles and hairs on the ocelar callus and occiput ( at least in schrottkyi)……….4
3b Anterior tibiae wholly yellow; yellow bristles and hairs on the ocelar callus and occiput….tucma
4a Antennae black; scutellum witli grey pollen on the dorsum………schrottkyi
4b Antennae and scutellum yellow…..jaliscoensis

Posted on February 21, 2019 14:02 by myelaphus myelaphus | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 24, 2018

Key to the Subfamilies of Asilidae [WIP - North America only ATM]

1a. Abdomen remarkably long and slender; pulvilli and alula absent............................Leptogastrinae
1b. Abdomen typically shorter and more robust; pulvilli and alula usually present............................2
2a. Eyes large, goggle-like.......................................................................................................Trigonomiminae
2b. Eyes not so.......................................................................................................................................................3
3a. Wing cell r1 stalked or closed at wing margin...................................………............................................4
3b. Wing cell r1 open............................................................................................................................................6
4a. Antennae typically cylindrical throughout; often mimics of Hymenoptera...................Laphriinae
4b. Antennae with a thin, tapering element; typically grey, elongate flies.............................................5
5a. Antennae plumose....................................................................................................................Ommatiinae
5b. Antennae not plumose.....................................................................................................................Asilinae
6a. Vertex conspicuously expanded....................................................................................Stichopogoninae
6b. Vertex not so (except Willistonina)...........................................................................................................7
7a. Acanthophorite spines always absent; tibial spur always absent; dense fringe of setae on hind
femur and tibia; antennae situated on tubercle……....................................................................Dioctriinae
7b. Acanthophorite spines generally present; tibial spur present or absent; dense fringe of setae
on hind femur and tibia absent; antennal tubercle present or absent…………………………………………...8
8a. Legs with flattened setae....................................................................................................Willistonininae
8b. Legs without flattened setae........................................................................................................................9
9a. Large, curved spur present on fore tibia (except Archilestris).................................Dasypogoninae
9b. Tibial spur absent, or if present, thin and sigmoid................................................................................10
10a. Typically large, elongate flies; tibial spur always absent..........................................Stenopogoninae
10b. Generally small, compact flies; thin, sigmoid tibial spur present or absent.....Brachyrhopalinae

Posted on September 24, 2018 20:50 by myelaphus myelaphus | 2 comments | Leave a comment

July 14, 2018

Key to the Mallophora of the United States

  1. Abdomen entirely black......................................................................................................................2
    Abdomen entirely yellow or some combination of yellow and black......................................3

  2. Hairs of scutellum black, beard yellow................................................................Mallophora atra
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/16615108
    Hairs of scutellum yellow, beard black........................................................Mallophora leschnaulti
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/8198405

  3. Abdomen entirely yellow....................................................................................Mallophora fautrix
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/1826585
    Abdomen black and yellow................................................................................................................4

  4. Abdomen mostly yellow but with black tip...................................................Mallophora orcina
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/811603
    Abdomen mostly yellow but with black middle...................................Mallophora bomboides
    https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/8508244

Posted on July 14, 2018 16:27 by myelaphus myelaphus | 11 comments | Leave a comment

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