Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes



Species Physocephala tibialis

Thick-Headed Fly - Physocephala tibialis - male 5012607 Physocephala - Physocephala tibialis Thick-headed Fly - Physocephala tibialis Thick-headed fly - Physocephala tibialis - female Conopidae?? - Physocephala tibialis Is this an Ommatius tibialis, a Ceraturgus fasciatus, or something else? - Physocephala tibialis - female 23Jun2017.savannah.HN.Dip2 - Physocephala tibialis Mud Dauber wasp - Physocephala tibialis - male
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Diptera (Flies)
No Taxon ("Acalyptratae")
Superfamily Sciomyzoidea
Family Conopidae (Thick-headed Flies)
Subfamily Conopinae
Genus Physocephala
Species tibialis (Physocephala tibialis)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Conops tibialis Say 1829 (the year 1823 is sometimes given erroneously, see "Remarks" section below)
Conops nigricornis Wiede., 1830
Conops fulvipennis Macq., 1843
Conops lugubris Macq., 1843
Adult body mostly black, with thin white, posterior bands on abdominal segments one and two; tibiae whitish at base.

Wings dark anteriorly, including entire discal cell (see "dm" in venation diagram here and labelled photo here). Humeral corners of thorax typically dark/black, with little or no pollinose dusting.

Lateral edges of face and frons white. Facial grooves black (see "fg" here). Cheeks uniformly black.
Eastern US and southeastern Canada (in US, from WI south to TX, and east to MA and FL(1); in Canada s.e. ON)
Adults in June and July (in OH & WV)
Larvae reported to parasitize workers of the bumble bees Bombus bimaculatus, B. griseocollis and B. impatiens [Malfi et. al. (2014)]
Adults visit flowers of herbaceous plants for nectar.
This eastern species is perhaps the most frequently encountered species of Physocephala in our area, with more BugGuide posts than any other.
Say's original 1829 description appeared in the Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, vol 6, pg 171. It can be read here. Williston gave a more detailed description of P. tibialis in 1883.
For a discussion of what appear to be aberrant reddish forms of P. tibialis, see this forum article.
Note some references [e.g. Parsons (1948) and Camras (1957)] erroneously state the original description date as 1823 and give "Jour. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phil., v 4, pg 83" as the source...but that's the date and source for the original description of Conops sagittaria, not C. tibialis. (A.S. 1/20/13)
See Also
P. furcillata can look very similar, but it can be distinguished by having (most of) the discal cell of the wing hyaline, and the facial grooves pale (whitish to yellowish):

The discal cell is entirely dark in P. tibialis (cf. 1st couplet of key here), as illustrated below:

P. floridana has conspicuous red coloration...widely on the forehead, on the thorax, and on the legs...and is usually more "robust looking". The forum post here may be of interest.
Print References
Gibson, J.F., Slatosky, A.D., Malfi, R.L., Rooulston, T., & Davis, S.E. (2014). Eclosion of Physocephala tibialis (Say) (Diptera): Conopidae) from a Bombus (Apidae: Hymenoptera) host: A video record J. ent. Soc. Ont. Volume 145: 49-58. (Full text)
Malfi, R.L., Davis, S.E., and Roulston, T.H. (2014). Parasitoid fly induces manipulative grave-digging behaviour differentially across its bumblebee hosts. Animal Behaviour 92: 213–220.
Parsons, C. T. (1948). "A Classification of North American Conopidae", Ann. Ent. Soc. Am., Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 223-246 (Full Text)
Camras, S. (1957). "A review of the New World Physocephala (Diptera: Conopidae)". Ann. Ent. Soc. Am. 50:213-218.
Internet References
Video of teneral adult emerging from bumble-bee host corpse from Gibson, Slatosky, Malfi, & Rooulston(2014).
Presence in OH and WV and seasonality (W.B. Bond)
Presence in IL (Flower-visiting Insects of Prairie Coreopsis, John Hilty)
Works Cited
1.A Catalog of the Diptera of America North of Mexico
Alan Stone, et al. 1965. United States Department of Agriculture.