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!