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Genus Psorthaspis

Psorthaspis luctuosa - female Blue wasp: Chlorion aerarium perhaps? - Psorthaspis planata Wasp - Psorthaspis formosa Blue Wasp - Psorthaspis planata - female Wasp - Psorthaspis planata - female Velvet Ant? - Psorthaspis sanguinea Psorthaspis brimleyi from Tarrant Co, TX - Psorthaspis brimleyi - female orange and black possible dauber - Psorthaspis sanguinea
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Pompiloidea (Spider Wasps, Velvet Ants and allies)
Family Pompilidae (Spider Wasps)
Subfamily Pompilinae
Tribe Aporini
Genus Psorthaspis
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Psorthaspis Banks 1911
Pompilus Fabricius 1784
Ferreola Cresson, Lepeletier 1845
Parapompilus Cresson, Smith 1855
Planiceps Fox 1822
Pedinaspis Fox 1844
Idopedinaspis Haupt 1936

Some species listed formerly under Pedinaspis.
Explanation of Names
Apparently a combination of Greek psor-, itch (1), plus thaspis. That might be a misspelling of Greek root thapsi(n), yellow, or perhaps a reference to the legendary first Greek actor Thespis.
Numbers
Nearctica (2) lists 13 species.
Size
7-22 mm (female>male)
Identification
Long pronotum (longer than mesonotum) usually evident. Head attachment (pronotal collar) very high, in the same plane as the dorsal surface of the thorax. Three submarginal cells in forewing (may be visible with clear photo). Six of the species are marked with bright orange and some are mostly orange. Females are sometimes identifiable in the field. All males are completely black and usually not identifiable in the field.

Key to Psorthaspis
The following key to the species of Psorthaspis has been adapted from existing keys.(3) This key primarily treats females and is divided between those species known to occur east of the Mississippi River, those occurring in the central US, and those occurring in the western US. There are only two males known among the eastern species (see below), and no males from west of the Mississippi River are treated. There are more diagnostic characters for Psorthaspis but I felt it unnecessary to cover them in the key as the first couplet should be sufficient in most of the east (beware Epipompilus in southern Florida).

1a. Pronotum rather short, usually much shorter than mesonotum; pronotal collar depressed, usually on a much lower plane than the vertex of the thoracic dorsum; often with a tarsal comb.............................(Pompilini, not covered in this key)
1b. Pronotum long and continuous with mesonotum; vertex of head and pronotal collar not or barely depressed, usually on the same plane as the vertex of the thoracic dorsum but with three submarginal cells in the anterior wing (compare other Aporini); never with a tarsal comb.................................................Genus Psorthaspis (select range below)

------> Eastern Range:
1a. Wings evenly pigmented, not fasciate...................................................2
1b. Wings fasciate...................................................................................3

2a. Integument mostly black; orange pigment limited to a pair of fused spots, one on each side of the third tergite.......................................................brimleyi (Malloch)

2b. Integument with limited black, mostly orange...................sanguinea (Smith)

3a. Calcaria whitish; integument of head usually orange; tergites three and four with cream-colored markings, usually complete, although marks on fourth tergite may be interrupted medially.................................................... legata (Cresson)

3b. Calcaria black; integument of head usually orange; tergites three and four lacking light markings; often larger than the above species.......................mariae (Cresson)


Males of P. sanguinea and P. brimleyi are unknown or have not yet been associated with the correct female in literature. Males with white calcaria belong to P. legata; males with black belong to P. mariae.

------> Central range:
1. Head and thorax reddish-orange, abdomen colored white and black only, wings distinctly banded...................................luctuosa (Banks)


------> Western range:
1a. Wings evenly pigmented, not fasciate...................................................2
1b. Wings fasciate...................................................................................3

2a. Body colored all-black, little to extensive tomentum (pubescence) reflecting green, blue or purple...................................................planeta (Fox)

2b. (future expansion) We need more information on all of the other possible western species. Most of them are only known from parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.

3a. Body colored as; orange, (head and front of thorax) black, (middle of body) orange, (most of the abdomen) abdomen tip whitish, wing's apical cells slightly fasciate.........................portiae (Rohwer)

3b. Body colored as; orange, (head and front of thorax) black and white striped on the rest of the body, abdomen tip black, wings distinctly banded................................formosa (Smith)
Range
This genus is found throughout most of the country, but is less common as you go north. Many species are found in the southwest.
Habitat
Females usually found on the ground searching through debris for prey. Males, when encountered are also found near the ground. All eastern species are found in woods.
Season
This genus is usually found in late summer-early autumn, especially in the northern part of it's range (personal observation).
Food
As in all spider wasps they feed on spiders. It is suspected that this genus feeds on trapdoor spiders, although the prey item is known only for one species (P. planata, prey: Bothriocyrtum californicum). This genus is not known to commonly visit flowers.
Life Cycle
Most probably have one generation per year.
See Also
Aporus - The entirely black members of Psorthaspis are very similar to the genus Aporus; wing venation is the best separating character, Aporus has only two submarginal cells in the forewing.
Print References
Banks, Nathan. 1911. Psammocharidae: Classification and Descriptions. Journal of the New York Entomological Society 19: 219-237 (BHL link, original description)
Brimley, p. 432, lists three species in genus Pedinaspis for North Carolina (4).
Bradley, pp. 37-41, has keys to the species of American, Mexican, and Central American Psorthaspis.
Krombein et al., pp. 1544-1545 lists all the North American species and notes and states in which each species has been recorded.
Internet References
North Carolina State University Entomology Collection lists for that state, with number pinned: brimleyi (32), legata (20), mariae (4), sanguinea (2)
Works Cited
1.Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms
Donald J. Borror. 1960. Mayfield Publishing Company.
2.Nearctica: Nomina Insecta Nearctica
3.The Genus Psorthaspis on the Mexican Central Plateau (Hymenoptera, Pompilidae)
Howard Ensign Evans. 1954. THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY.
4.Insects of North Carolina
C.S. Brimley. 1938. North Carolina Department of Agriculture.