Laphyctis iota, Loew, 1858

Londt, Jason G. H. & Dikow, Torsten, 2018, A review of the assassin-fly genus Laphyctis Loew, 1858 with descriptions of two new species (Diptera, Asilidae, Laphriinae), African Invertebrates 59, pp. 75-106 : 81-84

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scientific name

Laphyctis iota

sp. n.

Laphyctis iota   sp. n. Figs 20, 26, 39, 46-50, 56


Gr. iota   = anything very small. Refers to the fact that this is by far the smallest species described in the genus.


Based on all examined material. General appearance as in Fig. 39.

Head: Dark red-brown, but colour masked by strong gold-silver pruinescence, shiny white and pale yellow setose. Antennae mostly red-brown, fine gold pruinose, especially scape. Scape red-brown, strongly pale yellow setose distoventrally. Pedicel red-brown with a few small setae distally. Postpedicel red-brown with distal 2/3 dark red-drown, with narrow terminal cup-shaped style, opening oblique and enclosing a spine- like sensory element. Segmental length ratios = 1: 0.8: 2.3: 0.6. Face dark red-brown, colour masked by strong gold-silver pruinescence (except for extreme lateral margins of epistomal margin). Width of one eye: face ratio = 1: 1.0 (face approximately equal in width to 1 eye). Face projecting ventrally, profile plane (Fig. 20). Mystacal macrosetae shortish pale yellow, not extending beyond ventral quarter of face. Dorsal region of face fine yellow setose. Frons and vertex dark red-brown, colour entirely masked by silver-gold pruinescence, fine sparse pale yellow setose. Ocellar tubercle sparse fine pale yellow setose (no macrosetae). Postocular (occipital) region dark red-brown, colour entirely masked by strong gold-silver pruinescence. Occiput with 2 curved rows of c. 12 short, pale yellow macrosetae dorsally and many fine white setae, mostly ventrally. Palpi dark red-brown, 2-segmented, pale yellow setose. Proboscis straight, shiny dark red-brown, fine yellow setose proximally and distally.

Thorax: Red-brown, uniformly strongly silver-gold pruinose, orange and pale yellow setose. Pronotum dark red-brown, silver-gold pruinose, fine yellow setose. Mesonotum dark red-brown, entirely fine silver-gold pruinose, uniformly fine shiny yellow microsetose (slightly longer posteriorly) except for moderately developed, orange lateral macrosetae (3 npl, 2-4 spal, 2 pal). Scutellum dark red-brown, disc entirely fine silver-gold pruinose. Discal scutellar setae fine yellow, c. 4-6 weakly developed apical scutellar setae, directed dorsally. Pleura red-brown, entirely silver-gold pruinose, fine pale yellow setose. Katatergal macrosetae moderately developed, pale yellow. Anatergites uniformly strongly gold-silver pruinose, asetose. Postmetacoxal area membranous. Legs: Coxae orange-brown, silver-gold pruinose, pale yellow and white setose. All trochanters, femora, tibiae and tarsi orange-brown, shiny orange and fine white setose. Claws well-developed, dark red-brown with narrow brown-orange basal parts. Empodium red-brown, straight, as long as claws. Pulvilli pale orange, well-developed. Wings (Fig. 26): ♂ (1) 4.6 × 1.9 mm, ♀ (3) 4.9 × 2.0 mm (female bigger than male, note: wings in poor condition with some margins tatty). Venation: All marginal cells open except for m3 and cua, which are closed and stalked. Veins yellow-brown, membrane unstained, transparent, almost entirely microtrichose. Cell cup with weakly developed bordering vein (C) and microsetae. Alula well-developed, lacking bordering vein but with marginal microsetae.

Abdomen: Dark red-brown, entirely pale yellow setose, macrosetae pale yellow, weakly silver-gold pruinose. Tergites (T1-6 well-developed and clearly evident, others reduced and hidden from view below T6) uniform red-brown, entirely fine yellow microsetose, weakly silver-gold pruinose. T1-6 with pale yellow discal macrosetae. Sternites red-brown, fine pale yellow setose, weak silver-gold pruinose.

Male terminalia (Figs 46-48): Genital bulb rotated clockwise through approximately 270°. T7-8 and S7-8 reduced and poorly defined. Epandrium well-developed, about four times longer than deep in lateral view and about one and a half times as long as broad in dorsal view; deeply bilobed in distal quarter (Fig. 46). Proctiger well-developed, deep, projecting only slightly beyond distal epandrial margin. Hypandrium small, moderately well sclerotized, elongate, terminating on a narrowly rounded distal projection (Fig. 48). Gonocoxites suboval proximally, well-developed, deeper than epandrium in lateral view, with long, tapering, slightly downward curved distal projection, few short macrosetae on distal margin of gonocoxite. Gonostyli elongate, projecting beyond level reached by gonocoxites, distal tips pointed and dorsally directed. Phallus with narrow, slightly upcurved, pointed distal region.

Female terminalia (Fig. 49): Relatively broad and dorsoventrally flattened. Segments 1-6 well-developed, segments 7-8 somewhat reduced. Subgenital plate moderately well-developed, almost twice as broad as long, with undulating, characteristically trifurcate distal margin. Egg (found in abdominal after maceration) spherical (Fig. 50).

Type material.

Holotype. South Africa: Mpumalanga: 1♂ holotype 'South Africa. Transvaal / Kruger Park 5.i.1974 2431Db / 20 km NNE of Tshokwane [c. 24°45'55"S, 31°52'13"E 255m] / near road junction S35-S37 / B&P Stuckenberg open savanna’ [NSMA-DIP-07841].

Paratypes. 3♀, same data as holotype (NSMA-DIP-71782-4].

Distribution, biodiversity hotspots, phenology and biology.

Known only from the type locality in South Africa's, Kruger National Park (Fig. 56). A rarely collected species known only from a single collecting event (Table 1). The species is so far endemic to the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot. Adults are probably summer active, being collected in January in what is a summer rainfall region (Table 2). The collection site was almost certainly in an open grassland area, but along a dry river bed where scattered thorn trees grow. There is little doubt that the species, like others in the genus, rests on open sand.