Super Crop Challenge #4

It’s been a long time since the last Super Crop Challenge – can you identify the structures and the organism they belong to?  As always, each correct taxonomic and descriptive answer is worth 2 points, and bonus points are awarded at my discretion for extra effort.  Standard challenge rules apply.

About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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46 Responses to Super Crop Challenge #4

  1. Ted, you bastard. As if I don’t spend enough time looking at these things at work. Identifying flies is horrible. And yes, that is the top of a fly’s head. Antennae towards the left, ocelli towards the right, orbital and fronto-orbital bristles all in their appropriate places. And as I’m not at work and don’t have the appropriate references on hand, I’m just going to take a wild stab in the dark and say that it’s a house-fly Musca domestica. Oh yes, and the line going around the antennae is the ptilinal fissure, that allows the head to swell up to revoltingly gigantic size so that the emerging adult can burst out from its pupa.

    • 😀

      Good job – 2 pts each for: top of head, antennae, ocelli, orbital bristles, fronto-orbital bristles, and ptilinal fissure. Also, 2 bonus pts for explaining the ptilinal fissure function. I’ll give you 1 pt each for “fly”. Total = 15 pts.

  2. Gunnar says:

    This is the head of a fly. The antennae are to the left in the picture, consisting of three segments where the third is carrying an arista; a trait characteristic for the Brachycera. The antennae originate from the horseshoe-shaped ptilinal suture which is diagnostic for Cyclorappha.
    A shallow dorsal suture can be seen on the second antennal segment, which would suggest that it is one of the flies that in pre-Hennigian times were known as the Calyptrata.
    I have not studied calyptrates sufficiently to bet anything much on an answer beyond “Calyptrata”, but I will hazard a guess that the picture shows a Sarcophagid. After all, many species in this family have bright red eyes and a black median frontal stripe like that shown in the photo.

    • You guys know your stuff! 2 pts each for: head, antennae, arista, ptilinal suture, and Sarcophagidae. Bonus points for explaining the characters that suggest Cyclorrhapha and “Calyptrata” (= Schizophora). Total = 12 pts.

  3. biozcw says:

    It is the head of a Muscoid fly! Maybe a female.

  4. Tim Eisele says:

    The triangle of round dots at the right-hand side sure looks like a cluster of three dorsal ocelli. If that’s what they are[1], then the triangle is pointing in the direction of the mouthparts, which would make this a picture of the (checks anatomy diagram for right name . . .) frons of some insect. The jointed structure at the left-hand side would then have to be the bases of the (unusually close together) antennae[2].

    I understand that the triangle of ocelli is mostly seen in hymenoptera, diptera, odonata, and orthoptera. The diptera , odonata and orthoptera antennae I’ve seen have bases that look nothing like the structures here, so I’ll have to go with:

    Order: Hymenoptera

    I think I see some fingerprints in the reddish-pink background, so assuming that’s your thumb the whole picture is probably around an eighth of an inch across. Making the whole insect at least medium-sized, if not large. And I really doubt that you would hold a stinging insect in your hand like that for pictures, so it’s probably not a social wasp or a tropical ant. I expect that it is something from Brazil or Argentina, though.

    Man, there are a lot of hymenoptera families. I really have no clue from this point out. Nothing I’m seeing on BugGuide has a face that even looks similar. So, I guess I’ll stop there.

    [1] and if that’s not what they are, then everything after this point will be all wrong. Well, one has to start somewhere.

    [2] Although, if I assume that the compound eyes are just off the screen to the right, and the mandibles are just off to the left, this would look more like some sort of snout beetle (Coleoptera – Curculionidae). Except that I’m not seeing any indication that beetles have that triangle of ocelli on their head.

    • Boy, you were working for these points! 2 pts each for ocelli, frons, and antennae. Unfortunately, those are not fingerprints from my thumb, but facets of compound eyes, and the order is Diptera. I will give you 2 bonus pts for correctly surmising this photo was taken in Brazil or Argentina. Total = 8 pts.

  5. TGIQ says:

    In this photo I see someone’s head:

    two rows of fronto-orbital bristles, running along either side of a median grove. On the right, three ocelli. On the extreme top and bottom edges, orangey-red compound eyes. On the left, antennae surrounded by a frontal suture. The antennae are aristate; this factor plus the presence of the suture indicate it’s a member of the Dipteran Schizophora. The second antennal segment has a longitudinal suture, indicating that the fly is calypterate muscoid. Based on the oveall shape of this bit of the head and the arragement of the eyes, I’m going to guess this is a member of the Muscidae family, and venture that it might be Musca domestica.

    • Nice – 2 pts each for: head, fronto-orbital bristles, ocelli, compound eyes (the first to get this), antennae, aristate, and Dipteran. The “frontal suture” is more properly called the ptilinal suture, so I’ll give you half credit. Bonus points for explaining the characters that suggest Brachycera and Schizophora (although I’m not awarding points for secondary taxonomic categories). Total = 17 pts (new leader).

  6. It’s a closeup of the front of a dipteran (fly) head. The orangish areas are the compound eyes.

    On the left are the antennae. For each, the scape is clearly visible, followed by the arista which points off towards a corner, and the flagellum, which is cut off by the left border. On the far right, there’s a trio of ocelli. Bordering the dark area in between are bristles. I’m not sure about the family, but maybe I’ll post a followup comment on that.

    • Hi Troy! 2 pts each for: Diptera, head, compound eyes, antennae, scape, arista, flagellum, and ocelli. Half credit for “bristles” since there are several kinds. Total = 17 pts (and now co-leader with the Geek).

  7. Patrick Coin says:

    The face of a fly, rotated 90 degrees from the usual presentation. Antennae on the left. The hair-like thingies running across the middle are setae. Three ocelli on the right. Reminds me of photos I’ve seen of botflies, Oestridae.

    • Hi Patrick! 2 pts each for face, antennae, and ocelli, half credit for setae (need more precision). Also half credit for “fly” rather than Diptera. Total = 8 pts.

  8. Ani says:

    Wow.. took me a while to really get this picture straight. It would have been easier if the picture was vertical, but you are trying to trick us, arent you? That’s a great idea, because I was really surprised to see the antennae to the right and the ocelli on the left… and I thought the orange on top and bottom of the frame is the background!

    So, this is the head of a fly of the family – Sarcophagidae

    • The orientation wasn’t meant to be tricky, but if it worked out that way then I’m glad!🙂

      2 pts each for: antennae, ocelli, head, and Sarcophagidae. You also get a point for “fly” (but would’ve gotten 2 for “Diptera”). Total = 9 pts.

  9. Dennis Haines says:

    It looks like the frons of a calliphorid fly, showing the fronto-orbital bristles, the ocelli to the right and the antennal bases to the left. It also includes the attacment point for the arista. I wonder if it could be one of the Bottle Flies?

  10. I am not sure what type of diptera this is. But the anatomy is clear enough. The 3 ocelli on the right form the ocellar triangle while the large bristles pointing towards one another are the frontal bristles. The orbital bristles are just outside of these closer to the compound eyes. Finally you can see the base of the antenna beginning with the scape then pedicel and finally the flagellomere and the hair like arista.

    • Hi Health – nice to hear from you!

      2 pts each for: Diptera, ocelli, frontal bristles, fronto-orbital bristles, compound eyes, antenna, scape, pedicel, flagellomere, and arista. Total = 20 pts and the lead!

  11. Ben Coulter says:

    I’m gonna guess this is a good old house fly: Order Diptera, Suborder Brachycera, Family Muscidae, Musca domestica. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be another Schizophora, as my understanding of dipteran chaetotaxy is not what it should be. 😉

    There’s a number of features visible here, many highly modifed or reduced. Of course, there are the paired red compound eyes and the simple ocelli within the ocellar triangle, complete with ocellar bristles. The front of the head between the eyes is the frons, with pairs of big orbital bristles on the anterior edge of the compound eyes. A section of the occiput is visible behind the compund eyes. The lateral areas from the margin of the eyes to the two intermeshing rows of frontal bristles are called the frontorbital plates and the darker medial area between the frontal bristles, the frontal vitta.

    Below the frons, the face is divided by the inverted, U-shaped frontal suture (a.k.a. the ptilinal fissure, from which schizophorine flies inflate the sac-like ptilinum to emerge from the pupal case). The more schlerotized portion above the antennae is called the lunule. The portion of the head within the frontal suture is the facial plate. The areas between the eyes and the frontal suture are the parafacial plates. I think you can just make out a portion of the gena at the far left.

    Finally, the large paired structures just below the lunule are the bases of the fly’s antennae (comprised of the scape, pedicel, and flagellum), with each flagellomere sporting a modified bristle called the arista, further pegging this as suborder Brachycera.

    • Ah, I was waiting for the reigning champ to chime in – let’s see how you did.

      2 pts each for: Diptera, compound eyes, ocelli, ocellar triangle, ocellar bristles, orbital bristles, occiput, frontorbital plates, frontal bristles, frontal vitta, ptilinal fissure, lunule, facial plate, parafacial plates, antennae, scape, pedicel, flagellum, and arista. Bonus points for pointing out characters suggesting Brachycera and Schizophora) and also for being the first to throw out the term chaetotaxy! Total = 41 pts – huzzah!

  12. Max Barclay says:

    Hi Ted, I’m guessing face with vibrissae between the eyes of a cyclorrhapan fly, probably a Calliphoridae

    • Hi Max – certainly setae between the eyes of a cyclorrhaphan fly, but orbital and fronto-orbital rather than the vibrissae. I’ll still give you points for face as well as eyes and another point for “fly”. Total = 5 pts.

  13. OK, after some reading, I see there’s a frontal suture (the semicircular line facing to the left around the antennae). That identifies this as a muscoid fly. On the second antennal segment there’s another suture, which identifies this as a calyptrate muscoid fly, narrowing it down to 10 families (that might be NA dependent). As a guess, I’ll go with Calliphoridae, based on some similar looking images of blow flies online.

    • I’ll give you a point for frontal suture (looking for ptilinal fissure), and two more points for identifying characters leading to Calyptrata. Your new total = 20 pts, now 2nd only to the great Ben Coulter!

  14. Excellent! I’d be saying that it’s probably Muscidae (Musca domestica) although it might be a Sarcophagidae. As for the structures visible…

    First flagellomere, arista (flagellomeres 2-4), pedicel, scape, ptilinal suture, face, frontal vitta, ocellar triangle, compound eye, ocelli, frontal bristles, orbital bristles (proclinate), fronto-orbital plate, lunule.

    Good challenge!

    • Hi Morgan, I was hoping the “fly guy” would participate.

      2 pts each for all the structures you (correctly) identified. I’ll give you half credit for the family, since you hedged your bets. Unfortunatly, even though the order is implied, you must actually say “Diptera” to receive credit for it (sorry, I’ve been firm about this from the beginning, as well as common versus scientific names). Total = 29 pts, and the new 2nd best.🙂

  15. Dave says:

    I’ve got a headache from all morning on oil immersion. My hazard assessement tells me I have to take a break, so staring back at a fly face is on.

    Order Diptera, Suborder Brachicera, Section Schizophora, Subsection Calyptratae, Superfamily Oestroidea

    After that it is a punt – Sarcophagidae and Tachinidae both have taxa with similar arrangements of bristles.

    Structures from right to left along the midline: three ocelli; 8 pairs of frontal bristles; a pair of aristate antennae with what look like smooth aristae.

    Above and below are 3 pairs of orbital bristles, the first pair (rightside) are reclinate (if I remember the jargon correctly) and the other two proclinate (and, of course, parts of the compound eyes are visible).

    If Sarcophagidae, then not Sarcophaginae because they usually have plumose aristas, but Miltogramminae have more or less smooth aristas. I think I will go with that since these flies are neat parasitoids of wasps.

    The only problem is that miltogrammines tend to be pretty small flies, and this is a pretty good close-up. Tachnids are larger and more likely to be photographed like this, but I think I will stick with the Miltogramminae.

    Back to Aethiophenax and Aethiophenax not at 1000x.

    • Hi Dave – as current leader in the overall standings, I was hoping to see you defend your position at the pole.

      2 pts for Diptera, and another 2 pts for seemingly settling on Sarcophagidae. Dr. Patitucci suggests Sarcophaga, but I’ll give you a bonus point for good reasoning in trying to go below family. 2 pts each also for: ocelli, frontal bristles, aristate, antennae, orbital bristles, and compound eyes. Total = 17 pts – not enough to win this one, but let’s see how you fare in the overalls after I tally everything up.

      Playing super crop challenge during work hours has to be more fun than Aethiophenax!

  16. Mike says:

    I would say some sort of calypterate fly. Maybe Musca domestica.

  17. James C. Trager says:

    Head of dipteran with aristate antennae, ocelli, and a very cool pattern of bristles! If I were any good at flies, I bet I’d know this one right off.

  18. JasonC. says:

    Insecta, Diptera, Sarcophagidae? The bright red compound eyes and black and white color look like those of a flesh fly, plus I think the aristae look a bit fuzzy in this picture. There’s also the three ocelli at the right of the picture, and at the base of the antennae, the ptilinum and the suture that it makes when it deflates. This is supposed to be a characteristic of the Schizophora (either that or Cyclorrapha), which use it to emerge from the puparium by inflation (clearly, I’ve taken all of this from Alex Wild’s post on house fly emergence a while back).

    Btw Cyclorrapha is not the same as Schizophora, since Cyclorrapha is Schizophora, Syrphidae, Pipunculidae, and Platypezoidea all together. I don’t know whether or not this is new knowledge, but it’s in this article (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/03/15/1012675108.full.pdf+html), the newest fly phylogeny, so whatever. It seems to imply that the ptilinum evolved with Schizophora, but I’m just grubbing for points anyway.

    Finally I guess those very neat rows of bristles are pretty cool too, I think they’re orbital bristles?

    • Hi Jason. 2 pts each for: Diptera and Sarcophagidae, plus a bonus for the deductive reasoning that led you to that conclusion. For the structures, 2 points each for: compound eyes, ocelli, antennae, ptilinum, and orbital bristles.

      A bonus point for mentioning the ptilinal function, and I’m awarding you 2 bonus points for clarifying the difference between Cyclorrhapha and Schizophora and providing a pdf link (I’m a literature junkie). Total = 18 pts.

    • The Cyclorrapha has been in use for several decades now. I’m not exactly sure when it was first coined, but it was in common use in the early 1970’s at least.

      • I thought Cyclorrhapha was more of a ‘circumscriptional’ name that is synonymous with the more correct ‘Asilomorpha’ but which continues to be used because of its historical standing.

        Also, I seem to be the only one here spelling it ‘Cyclorrhapha’ (with an ‘h’ after the ‘rr’) – is this not correct? (If it means anything, Cyclorrhapha wins over Cyclorrapha on Google 130,000 to 10,900 :)).

        • Yep, you’re correct spelling it with that extra ‘h’ Ted, missed that. The term Cyclorrhapha has been applied to several different classifications, but generally it’s considered to be how Wiegmann et al represent it in the linked paper. Hennig originally considered it as the same as what we now call the Eremoneura (Empidoidea+the rest of the higher Diptera), but later removed the Empidoidea, and considered it the same rank as the Asilomorpha. To make it more complicated, McAlpine chose to call this grouping the Muscamorpha, which is a considerable expansion of the term which no one recognizes. I can’t recall hearing the Asilomorpha as referring to anything other than the subordinal clade which includes the Asilidae, but there have been a lot of terms thrown around and definitions changed over the past 50 years!

          Also, it seems the Cycclorrhapha was first conceived by Brauer in 1880, considerably earlier than I had guessed!

  19. JasonC. says:

    I forgot to ask–are the aristae just branching hairs on the antennae, or are they actually antennal segments?

    • I believe the aristae are actually comprised of antennomeres 4 through whatever (flagellum is antennomere 3). Morgan or another fly expert please correct me if I’m wrong.

      • Correct Ted, the arista is segments 4-6 in the Muscamorpha (generally referred to as flagellomeres in Diptera, the first being the large one and 2-4 forming the arista). In the lower Diptera (like Syrphidae and Stratiomyidae for example) the arista (when present) is usually only composed of 2 flagellomeres, although there are more flagellomeres (8) in total.

  20. Pingback: Bichos Argentinos #8 – “Mosca de la Carne” « Beetles In The Bush

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