Species of the genus Spogostylum are ectoparasitoids of solitary bees and wasps (order: Hymenoptera), Meloidae (order: Coleoptera), and immature stages of Pyralidae (order: Lepidoptera). Some species were also recorded as predators of egg pods of Acrididae (order: Orthoptera). Spogostylum niphasoides sp. nov. was collected from South Sinai, Egypt. It is described in the present study where it differs from closely related species in having all hairs and bristles mostly white, except some few hairs on outer side of pedicel, short spines on legs, and short hairs on costal margin of wing which are black. Also, antennae and legs mostly yellowish-brown, tibial spines short, about half the tibial width, and the male genitalia are obviously distinctive, having the aedeagal sheath with a broad and complicated tip, enclosing the aedeagal tip. An updated checklist of the Egyptian Spogostylum spp. is provided.
Bombyliidae, also known as “Bee flies,” is one of the largest families of Diptera, containing about 4800 taxonomically valid species occur on all continents, except Antarctica and also many oceanic islands. They are typically and most frequently encountered in arid and semi-arid environments, and constitute a high percentage of the diversity of flies in the most desert regions of the Earth (Hull 1973 and Evenhuis and Greathead, 2015).
As larvae, the vast majority of Bombyliidae are ectoparasitoids on the immatures of holometabolous insects, and a few species are known to prey on the egg pods of orthopterans. Consequently, they are thought to have potential as biological control agents (Yeates and Greathead 1997; Dils and Özbek 2006; El-Hawagry 2015 and Evenhuis and Greathead 2015).
Adult bombyliids are showy flower visitors and often act as the main pollinators of many flowering plant species, especially those occurring in the more desert environments. Individuals can often be seen on rocks or twigs sunning themselves or feeding on a variety of flowering plants, and the majority of adults are nectar feeders. Females are obligate pollen feeders, obtaining pollen as a necessary requirement for the nourishment of developing ova (Kits et al. 2008 and Evenhuis and Greathead 2015).
Species of the genus Spogostylum are ectoparasitoids of solitary bees and wasps (order: Hymenoptera), Meloidae (order: Coleoptera), and immature stages of Pyralidae (order: Lepidoptera). Some species were also recorded as predators of egg pods of Acrididae (order: Orthoptera) (Greathead 1963 and Yeates and Greathead 1997).
The genus Spogostylum is one of the moderately specious genera within the family Bombyliidae, with about 80 species worldwide. Its species are distributed mainly on the Palaearctic and Afrotropical Regions, with a few records from the Oriental Region (Evenhuis and Greathead 2015).
Ecologists divide Egypt into eight ecological zones, namely, Coastal Strip, Lower Nile Valley and Delta, Upper Nile Valley, Fayoum, Eastern Desert, Western Desert, Sinai, and Gebel Elba (Fig. 1). All these zones but one have greater affiliation to the Palaearctic Region, whereas, the Gebel Elba ecological zone, the southeastern triangle of Egypt, has greater affiliation to the Afrotropical Region (El-Hawagry and Gilbert 2014).
In Egypt, El-Hawagry et al. (2000) and El-Hawagry (2002) keyed and described 14 Spogostylum spp., namely, S. bisniphas (Bezzi, 1925), S. candidum (Sack, 1909), S. efflatouni Paramonov, 1957, S. griseipenne (Macquart, 1850), S. hamadnallahi El-Hawagry, 2002, S. hippolyta (Wiedemann, 1828), S. incisurale (Macquart, 1840), S. isis (Meigen, 1820), S. niphas (Hermann, 1907), S. ocyale (Wiedemann, 1828), S. sordidum Sack, 1909, S. tripunctatum (Pallas in Wiedemann 1818), S. ventrale Bezzi, 1924 and S. volitans Wiedemann, 1828. The genus was recorded from all Egyptian ecological zones as defined by El-Hawagry and Gilbert (2014), and frequently from Eastern Desert and Sinai.
Specimens of the present species have been found in Efflatoun’s collection, Entomology Department, Faculty of Science, Cairo University (EFC), Egypt amongst some unidentified specimens collected from South Sinai (Fig. 1) by Efflatoun Bey. According to the Egyptian key of El-Hawagry et al. (2000) and Saudi Arabian key of Greathead (1980), the specimens are closely allied to S. niphas (Hermann, 1907), S. bisniphas (Bezzi, 1925) and S. niphoides Greathead, 1980, however, they differ in that antennae and legs mostly yellowish-brown, all hairs and bristles on frons are white and maybe mixed with few slightly yellowish-white hairs at upper half, abdomen devoid of black hairs and bristles, and tibial spines short, about half the tibial width. Only some few hairs on outer side of pedicel, short spines on legs, and short hairs on costal margin of wing are black. Also, the male genitalia are obviously distinctive, having the aedeagal sheath with a broad and complicated tip, enclosing the tip of aedeagus.
Material and methods
This description is based on two museum specimens in the Efflatoun’s collection, Entomology Department, Faculty of Science, Cairo University (EFC), Egypt. The famed British bee fly taxonomist late Dr. David Greathead (died in 2006) checked these specimens and commented to me (a personal communication) that they seem to be new. Recently, I rechecked and dissected the specimens and found them obviously new.
The genitalia were prepared by dissecting the terminal abdominal segments and then heated in 10% KOH for 20 min. Following maceration, the genitalia were washed and then dissected in distilled water. They were stored in glycerin for microscopic examination and illustration. Dissected genitalia were placed in a genitalia vial containing glycerin and were pinned beneath the identification label.
Results and discussion
Spogostylum niphasoides sp. nov.
Male (holotype) (Fig. 2). Relatively medium to large-sized robust species, body length is about 13 mm and wing length is about 13.2 mm. Head. Black in ground color; frons white dusted, with upper frons narrowed, about two times as wide as ocellar tubercle, all frons covered with pure white hairs, becoming slightly yellowish at upper frons; face densely covered with shaggy long pure white hairs; antennae 1 mm in length, yellowish-brown to brown at upper half of scape, lower half of pedicel and narrow apical part of flagellum, dark brown at broad lower base of flagellum, upper half of pedicel and lower half of scape; lower base of flagellum dusted white; hairs of antennae long white on scape, relatively short white on pedicel mixed with few black ones at outer side; scape about two times as long as and slightly wider than pedicel. Thorax. Glossy black in ground color, covered with shaggy long white hairs and fine short hairs, becoming slightly yellowish at central parts of scutum and scutellum; bristles of scutum and scutellum white, except yellowish brown supra-alar bristles; wings hyaline with very faint yellowish basicostal infuscation and whitish costal cell (c); veins dark brown except yellowish subcostal vein (Sc) and humeral cross-vein (h); base of costal vein white dusted, with short black hairs; costal vein (C) with shorter black hairs along margin; stem vein white dusted; anal cell (cup) narrowly open at wing margin, with opening about half length of posterior cross-vein (bm-cu) [in S. niphas, opening of cup relatively narrower, about third length of bm-cu or less]; halters yellowish, dusted white especially at tip of knob; legs yellowish-brown except the last tarsomeres of fore and middle legs, and all tarsomeres of hind legs which are brown; all legs covered with white scales and fine hairs, with short black bristles, bristles on tibia about half tibial width in length. Abdomen. Tergites glossy black in ground color with reddish-brown posterior borders, covered with white scaly hairs and long silky white hairs, becoming more dense and longer at sides and posterior margins, forming transverse bands almost on all tergites; some yellowish to brown fine hairs, and scaly hairs may also present mixed with white scaly hairs of white bands at margins of tergites and on center of second tergite; posterior tergite densely covered with broader scales and longer silky white hairs; gonocoxites truncate, triangular; gonostyli broad at base, with long curved apical part, constricted between broad base and long apical part, with small outer swelling covered with long hairs; aedeagal sheath is slightly longer than and enclosing aedeagus, with a broad complicated tip having two thorn-like dark spines directed antero-dorsally and located at proximal border of tip complex, and two smaller spines dorsally approximately at middle of tip complex; from lateral view, tip complex of aedeagal sheath seems semi-quadrangular, more sclerotized and darker in color dorsally, less sclerotized and lighter in color ventrally.
Material examined. Holotype ♂, Wadi Garagneyia (South Sinai), VI–VIII.42 (Efflatoun); paratype ♂ (in a poor condition), same data as holotype; all preserved in EFC.
As a final conclusion, a new species, Spogostylum niphasoides sp. nov. is here described from South Sinai, Egypt. This makes the total number of species within the genus Spogostylum in Egypt increases into 15 species.
Bezzi M (1912) Report on a collection of Bombyliidae (Diptera) from Central Africa, with description of new species. Trans Entomol Soc Lond 1911:605–656
I gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the famed British bee fly taxonomist late Dr. David Greathead to this paper. I am also indebted to Dr. Neal Evenhuis, Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA for revising the manuscript.
Availability of data and materials
Data supporting the conclusions of this article are presented in the main manuscript.
Authors and Affiliations
Entomology Department, Faculty of Science, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt
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El-Hawagry, M.S. A new species and an updated checklist of the genus Spogostylum Macquart (Bombyliidae: Diptera) from Egypt.
Egypt J Biol Pest Control28, 85 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41938-018-0090-8