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Anybody wanna talk pompilids?

First of all I just have to say that the images presented on this site are amazing. Usually I can't ID a spider wasp without the picture being from a microscope. I have a survey of the pompilids of Ohio in the works...maybe somebody will let me use some of the pictures (there were some great pictures of Auplopus mellipes mellipes). I love seeing all the pictures, especially of some of the species I don't see a whole lot, like the orange Psorthaspis females (all orange-marked Psorthaspis will be females, all males of that genus are black). However I do have to comment on a few misidentifications, and I hope noone thinks I being a jerk or a know-it-all, I just thinks it's kinda fun to be helping out with my favorite group of bugs where it actually means something. Photo #5685, by Patrick Coin, from June 23, 2004 is not a species of Anoplius. This is actually a species of Psorthaspis (P. brimleyi). A group within the subfamily pompilinae, the aporini, are mainly identified by the high attachment of the pronotal collar and the very long pronotum that has a straight rear edge. This photo showed both characters very well. P. brimleyi, as far as I know, is the only nearctic Psorthaspis that is not completely black but has the orange limited to the third tergite. According to the key in Bradley (1944) the P. sanguinea in the BugGuide is also misidentified. The wings in all the pictures are obviously banded and according to Bradley's key P. sanguinea has completely and evenly dark wings. However, the specimens in my survey are now on my "unidentified list" and are probably being sent to Dr. Pitts at Utah State University for confirmation. When I tried to key my specimens out Bradley's descriptions did not match the keys. The two common eastern species that are orange with banded wings are P. mariae and P. legata, but take that with a grain of salt. A revision of the genus Psorthaspis is probably my task for grad school:)
Anyway, enough of that. However I do have to voice a word of caution on a couple groups. The EASTERN metallic green Auplopus: it's probably not the best idea to identify them by photograph, unless the photograph is absolutely awesome. As Mr. Eaton points out the group is basically in disarray (unfortunately due to an eager amateur, R.R. Dreisbach, who butchered that group). Sometimes A. caerulescens, A. architectus, and A. nigrellus had characters that overlap and must be left unidentified...IN THE LAB (I know, I've had to do it a couple times).
Orange-marked Anoplius, all-black Anoplius/orange-marked "Pompilus", all-black Pompilus: When you're running through about 800 or 900 specimens you try to take short-cuts. Using orange markings on the abdomen is not a good short-cut. I almost missed a species in my survey because I didn't look for a key feature in a specimen: long, stout, backward-directed bristles on the "butt". I was not expecting to find an Arachnospila michiganensis in the OSU collection (one that didn't have "butt-bristles"), one of the very few orange-marked Arachnospila in the east. I would be very hesitant to call any photograph of an orange-marked spider wasp from an eastern state an Arachnospila (even the one currently in the guide). The majority of the orange-marked species found in the pieces of the old genus Pompilus are western.
Well, hopefully I didn't bore or offend anybody too much (I know I take pride in my identification skills) and I hope there are a lot more people photographing these awesome wasps. Maybe one day someone will let me contribute to the spider wasp section!

RE: Ohio spider wasps.
Nick, I collected a great number of pompilids when I lived in Cincinnati. I'll be interested to see your list, and see if I might have anything that is not already on it. I was using the old Townes key to Pepsinae, and Evans' key to Pompilinae. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Your collection
Eric, do you still have those specimens from Cincinnati? If you do I would love to get a hold of that data somehow and include it in my survey. Fortunately the old keys from Townes and Evans still work for Ohio.
Also, I e-mailed you some comments about Calopompilus but the message got bounced so I'll put it below:
I got the original piece of information and it's reasoning from a small paragraph in an article by Howard Evans. It was a checklist of the Pompilidae of Colorado in a smaller journal (Evans, 1997; Great Basin Naturalist, 57: 189-197). Unfortunately, I don't think he cited any literature on that subject and I'm not sure where to find that article. The only things I know is that Evans briefly explained why and Pitts and colleagues used it in the most current article on pompilidae I have. Also, even though I can't find the original article I believe Dr. Pitts gives ample explanation about the use and placement of the genus Chirodamus Haliday and Calopompilus Ashmead. I think that paper is available on the Pompilid Project website (it's a really great article, by the way, if you haven't read it). I think I had your correct e-mail address, so I hope it's not something on my end.

Yes, I do still have my specimens, and I can probably get the data to you eventually on an Excel spreadsheet. Sorry, my e-mail was temporarily constipated, and it should work fine now. I'd be interested in obtaining any recent papers from you, as I have limited capabilities with WebTV to print (or even read) some files.

Cincinnati specimens
My paper is a long way from being published so whenever you can get to it. My data is on an Excel file so that format would be great, but like I said don't put yourself out getting it to me. I'll wait as long as I can for it because my data is fairly weak for southwest Ohio. It appears to be a very poorly investigated area for spider wasps and most of the public collections in that area either lacked specimens or lacked usable data.
I'll try to get you the Pitts paper if you can't access it and I have some print articles that are relatively recent (for spider wasps, anyway) from Frank Kurczewski on bahavior, etc.

Welcome aboard
It is great to have somebody that knows so much about a particular group, your comments will be very valuable to all of us. I can see that your knowledge will prove useful not only in identifying specimens but also in helping us flesh out the guide pages.
As Patrick points out the most effective way to have your comments read by the interested party is to put them on the image's page. Also it would be very nice if you let us know a little about yourself, you can do that on your account's page.

Yes, information most welcome
Awesome to have an expert go through the images here. Misidentifications happen all the time--don't feel like a "jerk" by commenting on incorrect ID's. That's the whole point of this site--identification, misidentification, and perhaps, finally, correct identification. Sometimes the outcome of increased knowledge is that we have to move a photo up to family level--that's OK, as long as we all learn something. I'll look at that misidentified Anoplius:

It would be great if you could go to those individual images and leave a comment--that way the system generates an e-mail to the photographer and anyone else who is "subscribed" to that image. That way all those interested can see what is going on.

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