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Ripiphorus sp. - Ripiphorus mutchleri - female

Ripiphorus sp. - Ripiphorus mutchleri - Female
Deschutes river area, Sherman County, Oregon, USA
June 23, 2010
Size: 8 mm

Images of this individual: tag all
Ripiphorus? - Ripiphorus mutchleri - female Ripiphorus sp. - Ripiphorus mutchleri - female Ripiphorus sp. - Ripiphorus mutchleri - female Ripiphorus sp. - Ripiphorus mutchleri - female

Moved from Ripiphorus.

ID possibilities
Using the key in Linsley & MacSwain(1), characters of the hind tarsus (best seen in 3rd image) take this to the terminal couplet 11 which reads:

    11a) Abdomen predominantly brown; posterior tarsus with first segment between three and four times as long as broad. 3.4-5.5 mm. .....R. californicus
    11b) Abdomen predominantly red; posterior tarsus with first segment five or six times as long as broad. 5-7 mm. .............R. mutchleri

From your 1st (live) image, it seems the primary character "Abdomen predominantly red", is the better choice (--> mutchleri); whereas for the secondary character in the couplet, I measured the 1st segment of the hind tarsus to be 4 times its width (--> californicus). So the choice at this couplet is unclear. Both species occur in Oregon, with the closest records to your locale being from Hood River, OR (for both species).

The most detailed descriptions of both R. californicus and R. mutchleri I could find were on pp. 56-58 of Rivney(2), but I couldn't deduce a clear choice from those either. (Just that front legs and all tarsi of mutchleri are described as yellow; whereas all legs are brown and tarsi fuscous in californicus...which would seem to argue for the latter here.) The dorsal image of the type specimen of R. californicus here seems to show an abdominal color pattern and shape compatible with your image above (which is less richly red than your 1st "live field image"...I'm guessing colors may fade significantly?). The wings of californicus are described as "hyaline, very faintly fasciate (=banded)", which is consistent with the type images; whereas for mutchleri the wings are described as "hyaline, with smoky band along the middle"...which seems to agree with your image better.

So overall, your specimen seems a character "mix" between these two species, and I can't get further than that. Others more expert than I may be able to go further. At least it seems narrowed down to the "californicus group".

Great comment!!!
Aaron, thank you very much for your great comment!
I had pull out the real specimen and went through all those keys you linked.
From Linsley & MacSwain key I would go with couplet “11b)” only: size – 6.5-7mm, predominantly yellowish-red abdomen (definitely not brown!) and posterior tarsus with first segment approximately SIX times as long as broad (the image has two white sides of hairs which make that segment visually a bit wider). So the result – Rhipiphorus mutchleri.

From “the most detailed descriptions of Rivney” for R. mutchleri:
1) …the dominant color of the abdomen yellow (that is right!), whereas in R. californicus it is brown.
2) …the tibiae of R. mutchleri are curved and broad (Right!)
3) General description: Head and thorax black (!) (not brownish-black as for R. californicus), abdomen and elytra yellowish-red (!) (yellow for R. californicus), legs, tip of pygidium and some small areas along dorsal margins of sternites and spots on first two or three tergites brownish-black (absolutely right for my specimen!); front legs and all tarsi yellow, legs otherwise brownish. Head punctate, sparsely pubescent, vertex rounded (!) (conic for R. californicus), punctate, with suture or small carina; front slightly concave, clypeus truncate or slightly emarginate. Antennae 10-segmented, short, pectinate, rami decreasing in length toward apex. Wings hyaline, with smoky band along the middle (!). Pygidium broad, triangular, punctate along sides, smooth and usually concave in middle (!) (not very shining), although this concavity may be obsolete. First segment of hind tarsus as long as the others combined and slightly thicker than the others. So, everything matched with description of Rhipiphorus mutchleri.
Finally, the picture from your link looks quite similar to mine specimen (which we should expect) but brownish color of whole body, yellow elytra and wings without “smoky band” make me feel almost 100% confident that I have R. mutchleri.

...and Great Reply! :-)
Always good to be sincerely appreciated. And especially nice to get such a detailed response from another entomo-enthusiast willing to carefully slog through lots of details and share what knowledge they gained with all the other interested people who might pass this way in their quest to learn more about ripihorids :-)

Two quick reflections.

1) Regarding the character "Head...(with) vertex rounded" for mutchleri vs. "conic" for californicus, I couldn't see evidence for the distinction in examining this type image of californicus...which looked rounded to me, rather than conic. But I think these vertex characters for Ripiphorus are more apparent for the males. For instance, the head in this image of R. diadasiae looks somewhat "conic" to me. And the male here has a sharply pointed vertex.

2) You made a good point about the curved tibiae of mutchleri. I couldn't find mention of that in Rivney's description...but then I realized you must have gotten that info from the Plate IV for at the very end of Rivney(1). Very conveniently, Figures 4t and 5t in that plate show the tarsi of mutchleri and californicus side-by-side, and I agree, your specimen agrees better with mutchleri.

Good you had the specimen...made it much easier and to check characters that are tricky or ambiguous to discern from limited images. Also good to have a new species of Ripiphorus for BugGuide! :-)

Thank you!
Aaron, that was a good call on Plate IV, I missed it. So, now it's even more surely R. mutchleri.
If you could create a new page for this species that would be awesome.
Thanks again for your great work!

Will do...
...had to run this morning. I have some free time now, so can move the images soon.

But first I want to mention that I may have been wrong about the "vertex characters" being more relevant for males ripiphorids than females...check out the post below, which shows a female with a conspicuously (conically) pointed vertex:

However, although Rivney stated californicus has "vertex conic"...I just checked LeConte's original description of Myodites californicus (=R. californicus) and found that he stated "vertex broadly rounded".

Actually, I find fairly often that some characters given in keys and/or descriptions don't fit curated specimens...or even type specimens. That can be frustrating and confusing when trying to tack down an ID! I suppose such discrepancies might be attibuted to intra-specific variation (or at times to "operator error" :-) Oh well...I guess variation is just part of the nature of "biological species" (as opposed to "typological species"). And human error is a part of human nature :-)

At any rate, even without a supporting vertex character here, I agree that there are still sufficiently strong indicators pointing to R. mutchleri.

PS: I just found the reference where I got the impression the vertex character was more prominent in males...see the end of the 3rd to last paragraph here.

That is cool how different those descriptions are. Thanks for being so informative and knowledgeable!
Special thanks for all your advices, that would be not possible to me ID this lovely critter without your help!

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