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Family Vermileonidae - Wormlions

Los Angeles wormlion - Vermileo opacus Vermileonidae # 4 - Vermileo Woodland fly - Vermileo Sierra Wormlion - Vermileo comstocki wormlion - Vermileo opacus wormlion - Vermileo opacus Vermileo comstocki Vermileo comstocki
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon (Orthorrhapha)
Infraorder Tabanomorpha
Family Vermileonidae (Wormlions)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Formerly considered part of Rhagionidae
Explanation of Names
Vermileoninae Williston 1886 (see footnote here)
Vermileonidae Nagatomi 1977
2 spp. in a single genus in our area(1), ~60 spp. in 12 genera total(2)
In our area, sw. US (CO-NM-CA)(1)
Larvae make pitfall traps in dust/sand, similar to those of antlions in appearance and function(1).
Family Vermileonidae is unique among Diptera in having larvae that capture prey by constructing pitfall traps in loose soil (like antlions).
The family Vermileonidae is also interesting in terms its enigmatic place within the evolutionary and systematic context of the suborder Brachycera of Diptera. Traditionally placed as a subfamily of Rhagionidae (beginning in 1886, see footnote in Williston here), the group was given the rank of family by Nagatomi(1977), of uncertain placement (incertae sedis). Male terminalia in Vermileonidae resemble those of Therevidae in the superfamily Asiloidea, while larval mouthparts are similar to those of the superfamily Empidoidea. It has been variously placed as sister to Rhagionidae, or as its own infraorder sister to Xylophagomorpha near the base of Brachycera. It is apparently an old group...with the most recent work suggesting its the most primitive family of the infraorder Tabanomorpha.
Print References
Nagatomi, Akira (1977). Classification of the lower Brachycera (Diptera). Journal of Natural History 11(3):321-335
Nagatomi, A., C. Yang, & D. Yang. (1999). The Chinese species and the world genera of Vermileonidae (Diptera). Tropics, Monograph Series I: 1-154.
Nagatomi, A., T. Saigusa, H. Nagatomi, L. Lyneborg. (1991). The systematic position of the Apsilocephalidae, Rhagionempididae, Protempididae, Hilarimorphidae, Vermileonidae and some genera of Bombyliidae (Insecta, Diptera). Zool. Science 8:593-607. (Full Text)
Ovtshinnikova, O.G. (2000). Male genital musculature of Vermileonidae (Diptera, Brachycera) and systematic position of the family. Entolmologicheskoe Obozrenie 79: 513-52l.
Wheeler W.M. (1930) Demons of the dust. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Williston, S. W. (1886). On two new interesting genera of Leptidae. Entomologica Americana 2(6):105-108. (Full Text)
Yeates, D.K. (2002). Relationships of extant lower Brachycera (Diptera): a quantitative synthesis of morphological characters. Zoologica Scripta 31: 105-121 (Full Text...scroll down page)