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Photo#473425
Bee Fly filling

Bee Fly filling "Sand Chamber"? - Villa - Female
Below summit of Black Mountain, Santa Clara County, California, USA
July 31, 2010
Photographed on dirt road surrounded by oak woodland and chaparral on rocky mountainside at about 2100' elevation.

I think this may be a female filling her "sand chamber" or "psammophore"...as described in Andy Calderwood's comments here and here.

I tried to key this in Hull(1) and the "Manual of Nearctic Diptera"(2), got to subfamily Exoprosopinae, tribe Villini...beyond that I couldn't get a good fix on genus...maybe Villa or a nearby genus?

[Note: Villini is currently considered a tribe within the subfamily Anthracinae (see the "World Catalog of Bee Flies"(3)(2003) by Evenhuis & Greathead). The former subfamily Exoprosopinae, where Hull(1) (1973) and "The Manual of Nearctic Diptera"(2) (1981) placed the tribe Villini, is no longer recognized as a subfamily.]

Images of this individual: tag all
Bee Fly filling Bee Fly filling Bee Fly filling

A bit more info after 5+ years
I'm fairly convinced this is what has been variously referred to as Anthrax muscaria (see Coquillett's original 1892 description here), Villa muscaria (see Painter(1926)), Thyridanthrax muscaria (see data on AMNH type image page), and was given the replacement name of Villa myximyia on page 506 of Evenhuis & Greathead(1)(2003).

The individual here goes to A. muscaria in Coquillett's 1892 key and is in excellent agreement with his original description for that species here.

In keys clearly to Villa muscaria in Painter(1926), where the principal key character given there is "median longitudinal yellow tomentose stripe across the center of the thorax". That median longitudinal stripe is unfortunately obscured by the pin (and perhaps somewhat abraded?) in the type specimen and these dorsal and lateral images from the Univ. of British Columbia.

Again, per Evenhuis & Greathead(1)(2003), it appears the proper current name is V. myximyia

Moved
Moved from Villini.

Moved
Moved from Bee Flies.

Beautiful photos, Aaron...
I'd guess Villa too. :-)

 
Thanks, Harsi :-)
I really tried to work through those keys!

It felt like I was making good progress...passing through lots of couplets in getting to tribe Villini. But there are a whole lot of genera in that tribe, so the couplets just keep on coming at you!! :-)

Beyond tribe Villini, the key characters start to focus on details that (for the most part) I didn't capture in my images. So the only hope I see of getting further with an ID is through the experience of someone who has very detailed knowledge of gestalt and/or other distinctive characters that (for whatever reason) might not have made it into the keys I was working with. Such characters are often present, as keys frequently focus on subsets of characters sequenced to separate out and order particular groupings of taxa, clumped by the choices dictated by a particular parsing chosen for the given key, and often neglecting to mention other (perhaps distinctive & useful) characters not relevant to that chosen parsing.

In particular, the wing venation on this gal seemed distinctive to me. Maybe that, and/or patterning of color, hairs, etc, will be helpful? With luck, an expert may recognize something diagnostic here.

 
Echoed, both ways
And yes, she's filling up with sand.

 
Good (...good) To Hear (...hear)
Thanks Ron :-) I bet you've seen that sand-filling behavior before. I'll mark it as a female...and move it, at least to Villini.

 
ID
It is certainly Villa.

 
Thanks for Confirmation, Andy
...

 
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