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Photo#227363
Copestylum sexmaculatum - female

Copestylum sexmaculatum - Female
Parkwood, Durham County, North Carolina, USA
August 5, 2008
Size: 10 mm
This fly was found feeding on dwarf sumac (Rhus copallina) in the company of several sphecid wasps. Size estimated. This fly has me flummoxed. Looking at the wing veins, I think it is a syrphid, though I could well be wrong. I browsed through syrphids for some time, and I don't see anything too close, but it perhaps resembles a Copestylum (or the similar genus Volucella. It is now rather rare to find an eastern syrphid of which we do not have photos here on BugGuide.
Any ideas are appreciated.

Further speculation, please to call it "research":
North Carolina State University has Copestylum vittatum listed from the state in that genus (13 specs.), and four species of Volucella: bombylans (6 pinned), pallens (3), pusilla (2), and vesicularia (39).
Brimley (1) lists V. sexpunctata from nearby Raleigh in July and August--this sp. is apparently now Copestylum sexmaculatum (ITIS)--odd that it is not listed in the NCSU collection.
Brimley also lists V. vesiculosa from Raleigh, April-September.
Oh well--I may be barking up the wrong tree entirely.
(See comments below.)

Syrphidae of Oklahoma says male has holoptic eyes in genus Volucella (now would be Copestylum), so this must be a female.

WARNING--GRATUITOUS NATURE GEEK CELEBRATORY MOMENT
YEEHAW!--a new species for the guide!
(Thank you for your indulgence.)

Images of this individual: tag all
Copestylum sexmaculatum - female Copestylum sexmaculatum - female Copestylum sexmaculatum - female

Moved to new guide
Moved from Volucellini. See comments below.
Thanks, Joel, the statements from you, plus the presence of this species on a local checklist, noted at the same time of year, says "good enough" to me. I've been bold and written a new guide page for Copestylum sexmaculatum.

Copestylum
This is definitely Copestylum. The Manual of Nearctic Diptera treats Volucella bombylans as the only member of that genus in North America, and that is still the accepted treatment. This fly looks like the C. sexmaculatum in our collection (specimens from SC), but I don't know if there are other similar species it could be confused with.

Volucella?
I'd venture this is a Volucella, but at best that is a guess. I'm not quite sure how they decided to split the genus in the first place!

 
Looks like one or t'other--moved to tribe
Moved to tribe Volucellini, which includes just those two genera.
I note from looking at checklists that couple of species have gone back and forth between those two genera over the years, so it seems the confusion is widespread. Syrphidae of Ontario has some images:
-Copestylum (3 spp.) C. vittatum looks a bit similar to my fly, perhaps.
-Volucella (1 sp.)

Syrphidae of Oklahoma has a key to Volucella species, but does not include any Copestylum.
Seems to be a tough group.

 
An interesting read
Thanks, Patrick, for posting. WIsh it'd worked out better for you. Your dedication to solving this problem is enviable.

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