Identifying Harpobittacus Scorpion-Flies in Australia

I have recently acquired a copy of "Revision of the Australian Scorpion-fly Genus Harpobittacus (Mecoptera : Bittacidae) Lambkin 1994, with thanks to Kevin J. Lambkin, @christopherburwell and @sdoug7405 and original prompting by @matttudor. Other people who may be interested: @grigorenko @ellurasanctuary @thebeachcomber @rover-rod - if anybody wants a copy I can email it to you (send me a private message if you don't want your email public).

I am working through this now to particularly see the distinction between Harpobittacus australis and Harpobittacus nigriceps and to likely correct many of my past identifications...

The most important section should be the Key, which I have copied out here:

Identification Key to Adults of Harpobittacus

  1. Distal crossvein between CuP and AA3+4 absent in both pairs of wings (Fig. 2) ..... 2
    Distal crossvein between CuP and AA3+4 present in at least 1 wing (Fig. 1) ..... 4

  2. Face orange medially (as in Fig. 6) ..... H. scheibeli
    Face entirely black ..... 3

  3. Abdominal tergites black; mainland south-eastern Australia ..... H. nigriceps
    Abdominal tergites 2-5 orange; Western Australia ..... H. phaeoscius

  4. Mesonotum almost entirely black except for small areas posteromedially and posterolaterally; at least anterior } of metanotum black (Fig. 9); o* head with a deep cavity below antennae (Fig. 5) Western: Australia ..... 5
    Mesonotum black over anterior 1/2 only; metanotum entirely orange or with a pair of black spots anterolaterally (Fig. 10); female head with at most a shallow depression below antennae; eastern and south-eastern Australia ..... 6

  5. Propleuron black; epiandrial lobe almost parallel-sided in lateral view, densely setose dorsally (Fig. 35) and with medial lobe elongate (Fig. 24); anterior setose areas of GS8 with a combined total of >6 long, thick setae (Fig. 65) ..... H. similis
    Propleuron orange; epiandrial lobe dilated apically in lateral view, sparsely setose dorsally (Fig. 36) and with medial lobe short (Fig. 25); anterior setose areas of GS8 with a combined total of <6 long, thick setae (Fig. 66) ..... H. quasisimilis

  6. Hind margin of pronotum narrowly orange (Fig. 13); epiandrial lobes flexed longitudinally
    (Figs 26, 27), in lateral view broad (c. 2× as long as wide) (Figs 37, 38); basistylus black; female S7 wider than long, strongly tapered anteriorly (Fig. 57); GS8 with an anterior hook-like extension (Fig. 67) ..... 7
    Hind margin of pronotum black; epiandrial lobes not flexed longitudinally, in lateral view elongate (mostly >2x as long as wide) (Figs 30-34); basistylus orange; female S7 longer than wide, not strongly tapered anteriorly (Figs 50-54); GS8 without an anterior hook-like extension Figs 60-64) ..... 8

  7. Propleuron entirely orange; hind margin of black area on mesonotum inverted V or U-shaped (Fig. 7); epiandrium in lateral view narrower basally than at midlength (Fig. 37), in dorsal view with medial region short (Fig. 26); central Queensland to New South Wales ..... H. scheibeli
    Propleuron usually with a dorsal black spot (Fig. 13); hind margin of black area on mesonotum usually nearly straight (Fig. 8); epiandrium in lateral view as broad basally as at midlength (Fig. 38), in dorsal view with medial region long (Fig. 27); north Queensland ..... H. septentrionis

  8. Males ..... 9
    Females ..... 13

  9. Metanotum black anterolaterally (Fig. 10); epiandrial lobe with dorsal margin nearly straight in lateral view, apex not upcurved (Fig. 34) ..... H. rubricatus
    Metanotum entirely orange; epiandrial lobe with dorsal margin concave subapically or sinuous in lateral view, apex at least slightly upcurved (Figs 30-33) ..... 10

  10. Epiandrial lobe short, in lateral view c. 2x as long as wide, apex only slightly upcurved (Fig. 33) ..... H. tillyardi
    Epiandrial lobe elongate, in lateral view >2%x as long as wide, apex strongly upcurved (Figs 30-32) ..... 11

  11. Pronotum entirely black; inner ridge of epiandrial lobe strongly produced mesad as a tooth-like lobe (Fig. 19) ..... i. australis
    Pronotum usually with some orange laterally, at least in a small spot at base of lateral seta (Figs 11, 12); inner ridge of epiandrial lobe only slightly produced mesad (Figs 20, 21) ..... 12

  12. Epiandrial lobe in lateral view <3 x as long as wide and tapered apically (Fig. 31) ..... *H. albatus*
    Epiandrial lobe in lateral view more elongate, >3x as long as wide and not tapered apically ..... M. christine

  13. GS8 with 2 areas of long, thick setae (Figs 61, 72) ..... Y. albatus
    GS8 with 1 (posterior) area of long, thick setae (Figs 60, 62-64) ..... 14

  14. S7 entirely black, or black with a longitudinal orange stripe (Fig. 16) ..... 15
    S7 entirely orange, or at most with lateral margins narrowly black (Fig. 17) ..... 16

  15. Lateral regions of pronotum orange (Fig. 12); metanotum entirely orange; GS8 broad and plate-like, not noticeably tapered anteriorly (Fig. 62) ..... H. christine
    Pronotum entirely black; metanotum black anterolaterally (Fig. 10); GS8 narrow, tapered to an acute angle anteriorly (Fig. 64) ..... H. rubricatus

  16. T5 entirely orange, or sometimes suffused with black anteriorly and posteriorly; GS8 narrow, tapered to an acute angle anteriorly (Fig. 63) ..... H. tillyardi
    T5 entirely black, or sometimes with an orange area posteromedially; GS8 broad and plate-like, not noticeably tapered anteriorly (Fig. 60) ..... H. australis

From distribution maps

  • H. australis distributed through much of Victoria (excluding northern & north-western inland), Tasmania and along the coast of South Australia to the Eyre Peninsula and through the mountainous regions of NSW to the Qld border
  • H. christine Bunya/Towoomba regions
  • H. albatus costal regions from Wollongong to Rockhampton (plus a couple of records a bit more inland and one in Townsville)
  • H. septentrionis Mackay to Cairns
  • H. scheibeli southern Qld quite far inland and just into northern NSW
  • H. nigriceps SE corner of SA along coast then broadening range through central Victoria into west Gippsland from Wilsons Prom and along northern foothills just into NSW.
  • H. tillyardi coastal NSW and coastal southern Qld
  • H. rubricatus southern inland Qld, inland NSW into NW Vic and through middle third of SA to top of Eyre Pen.
Posted on January 22, 2024 08:10 AM by reiner reiner

Comments

interesting

does the description for australis explicitly say the face is not entirely black? Given nigriceps/australis don't separate out at the same couplet

Posted by thebeachcomber 5 months ago

@reiner, well done for pursuing this. Great stuff.

Out of curiosity, just looked up the distribution of H. tillyardi, the three observations on iNat are around greater Brisbane, whereas the key suggests WA only. Or am I reading this incorrectly? :)

Posted by matttudor 5 months ago

@mattudor it's a formatting error when reiner pasted the key, that final couplet labelled as 5 should be 16. East coast is correct distribution for tillyardi

Posted by thebeachcomber 5 months ago

@thebeachcomber Ah, yes. The bracketed section makes sense now. Cheers.

Posted by matttudor 5 months ago

@thebeachcomber under description for Harpobittacus australis:

Coloration. Head. Dorsum, lower 1/2 of rostrum and mouthparts black, otherwise orange.

But I guess if the venation isn't visible need to check all sp

Posted by reiner 5 months ago

Key has been copied completely.

I have reviewed all Victorian observations of Harpobittacus needing ID and Harpobittacus australis, many moved to H. nigriceps.

Distribution maps included in the manuscript added in comments above.

Posted by reiner 5 months ago

nice
does the paper have distributions for the WA stuff too?

Posted by thebeachcomber 5 months ago

yes, for the three WA species, H. similis and H. quasisimilis larger areas in SW WA (Geraldton to Esperance) while H. phaeoscius more narrow coastal from Perth to Albany.

Posted by reiner 5 months ago

checking some ACT & southern NSW records I would say Harpobittacus nigriceps range might extend to Canberra

Posted by reiner 5 months ago

Thanks, excellent job Reiner, and I will review my previous Id's for this genus.

Posted by rover-rod 5 months ago

With many observations now corrected, it appears in Victoria, H australis emerges earlier in the season with maximum abundance in Oct whereas H nigriceps is only just starting to appear and observations peak around December.

Posted by rover-rod 5 months ago

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