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Interesting Fly on desert

Interesting Fly on desert "Gilia" - Paracosmus insolens
Cronese Lakes, off I-15 west of Baker, San Bernardino County, California, USA
April 4, 2014
Found in a state of relative torpor shortly before dusk on flowers of the annual Aliciella lottiae (a member of the Phlox family in the Gilia sensu lato group) growing at the edge of a sand dune.

I initially thought in the field that this might be a syrphid, but upon seeing the detailed images here the antennae don't seem right (a pointed style and no dorsal arista). Don't have time right now to try to key it in the always, any help appreciated.

Images of this individual: tag all
Interesting Fly on desert Interesting Fly on desert Interesting Fly on desert Interesting Fly on desert Interesting Fly on desert Interesting Fly on desert

This is a very good fit for a female P. insolens based on Hall's redescription of the species (Hall, J.C. 1957. Notes and descriptions of new California Bombyliidae. Pan-Pacific Entomologist 33:141-148 - this reference doesn't seem to be available online).

Moved from Paracosmus.

Comparing with two more References (one online)
Hi Joel :-) I just found Coquillett's 1890 original description online. It describes a male P. insolens and fits well...especially if one allows for minor discrepancies which might be attributed to sexually dimorphic characters. For instance, Melander (1950) mentions "front of female largely polished, of male argenteous", which is consistent with your suggestion of a female here.

Melander (1950) also supports your ID of insolens well, emphasizing its distinctive tufts of white pile near halteres, notopleural sutures, and edge of 1st abdomenal segment. It also indicates insolens is distinguished from rubicundus, edwardsii, and morrisoni by having legs black (rather than yellow in rubicundus or femora & tibiae red in the other two).

I'll try to go to UC Berkeley at some point and copy the 1957 paper by Hall you mentioned...I gather that's where the "5th" species, Paracosmus similis, is described. With both Hall (1957) and Melander (1950) we may have a good chance of placing to species some of the BugGuide posts currently placed under the genus. Without Hall (1957) I don't know how to eliminate similis, if trying to work from Melander (1950) alone...although I did find this link to type image of P. similis.

Many thanks, Joel. Very happy to get your insights on species here.

The reference you cited is on my "list" for next time I visit the UC Berkeley library :-)

[BTW, I've been working hard on some recent Lordotus posts...might you have any experience/recall seeing specimens of L. diplasus or L. diversus? See posts here.

Would be great to get expert feedback there...both species would be new taxa nodes for BugGuide.]

Moved from Tomomyzinae.

Scrutinizing the full-size versions of the 1st and 5th images of the series, the ocellar tubercle appears to be situated at the vertex rather than near the middle of the frons...which leads to Paracosmus rather than Metacosmus at couplet 4 of the key to bombyliid genera in the MND(1).

Moved from Bee Flies.

Moved from Flies.

Thanks, John
I was thinking bee fly too...after seeing the antennae were way off for Syrphidae. The wing venation struck me as "bee fly-like"...though the lack of any visible proboscis seemed unusal.

Using the MND(1) I got to either Caenotoides Hall (2 spp.; California, Idaho; Hall 1972) or Caenotus Cole (4 spp.; western U.S.A.; Melander 1950b). But unable to find any further info or images last night...I punted, cause it was getting too late at night to work on it any further. I'll return to it when I have some more time.

Cosmic fly
I get Paracosmus or Metacosmus, which may go by different names today.

Far out!
You're right, John. I erred at the 2nd couplet in the key:

2. Occiput flat or rounded, without a deep central cavity (Fig. 9); occipital fringe typically placed next to eye margin.....5


2'. Occiput somewhat swollen, bilobate above, and with a deep central cavity (Fig. 8); fringe placed on edge of cavity away from eyes..........CYLLENIINAE....3

Looking again at the 5th image in my series (full-size here), I see the occiput is somewhat swollen, and the specular highlights from my ring-flash indicate it's indeed bilobed. I think that image also shows the ocellar tubercle (again with a specular highlight from the flash) located smack in the middle of the vertex, which leads to genus Paracosmus at couplet 4 of the key in the MND(1).

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