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Species Pterodontia misella

Pterodontia misella? - Pterodontia misella - male Small Headed Fly - Pterodontia misella - female Small Headed Fly - Pterodontia misella - female Pterodontia misella? - Pterodontia misella - male Pterodontia misella? - Pterodontia misella - female Pterodontia misella? - Pterodontia misella - female Pterodontia misella? - Pterodontia misella - female Pterodontia misella? - Pterodontia misella - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon (Orthorrhapha)
Family Acroceridae (Small-headed Flies)
Genus Pterodontia
Species misella (Pterodontia misella)
Explanation of Names
Pterodontia misella Osten Sacken 1877
w. NA (BC-CA to MT-UT)(2)
Osten Saken's original 1877 description of P. misella can be read online here.
Cole(3) (1919) remarked that:
"The males of this species are almost impossible to separate from P. flavipes, and I would have been inclined to make it a synonym of that species, had I not recently seen two females. These females have a black scutellum and the prescutellar callosities are black. The species is distinctly smaller than the average specimens of P. flavipes."
Sabrosky(4) (1948) concluded that P. misella should be considered a synonym of P. flavipes, he stated:
"I had previously regarded flavipes and misella as distinct eastern and western species, based partly on color characters, but mainly on what seemed to be a striking sexual dimorphism in the western misella (Sabrosky, 1943, pp. 180-181). Realization of the latter error (cf. discussion under P . johnsoni) has eliminated that consideration, and further, a recent opportunity to study a number of far western specimens demonstrated that the apparent differences in color and size are not reliable. Certain characteristics seem indeed to be rather distinctive in most specimens; for example, western individuals almost always have a median black vitta on the dorsum of the fourth abdominal segment, whereas in eastern specimens this tergum is usually entirely orange, or at most with only a narrow vitta. Likewise, in western males, the costa seemed to be more abruptly bent forward just proximad to the toothlike projection than in eastern specimens. But there were exceptions for all characters. The male genitalia of eastern and western examples were also compared, but no differences could be found. When one is forced to fall back on locality labels, it seems necessary to abandon misella as a distinct species and to regard it as at best a weakly defined western subspecies with a darker habitus than the larger and somewhat more brightly colored eastern race."
However, Ev Schlinger's write-up of Acroceridae for the 1965 catalog of Diptera by Stone et al(5) listed P. misella as a species (rather than a synonym of P. flavipes). And Dennis Haines, who has been studying Acroceridae for many decades, posted a specimen as P. misella a few years ago. So it seems Sabrosky's 1948 views on synonymy were not adopted, and P. misella is still recognized as a species.
Works Cited
1.Manual of Nearctic Diptera Volume 1
Varies for each chapter; edited by J.F. McAlpine, B.V. Petersen, G.E. Shewell, H.J. Teskey, J.R. Vockeroth, D.M. Wood. 1981. Research Branch Agriculture Canada.
2.Thompson F.C., Pape T., Evenhuis N.L. (2013) Systema Dipterorum, Version 1.5
3.The dipterous family Cyrtidae in North America
Cole F.R. 1919. Trans. Am. Entomol. Soc. 45: 1-79.
4.A further contribution to the classification of the North American spider parasites of the family Acroceratidae (Diptera)
Sabrosky C.W. 1948. Am. Midl. Nat. 39: 382-430.
5.A Catalog of the Diptera of America North of Mexico
Alan Stone, et al. 1965. United States Department of Agriculture.