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More Laphriini Literature

October 24, 2012

Thanks to Bob Lavigne I added 23 new references to North American Laphriini today. Bob sent them to me yesterday. I had known about some of these--more on that shortly--but some were in places I would have never looked, and had it not been for Bob would have been missed for a long while if not forever.

As I said in my last post the current bibliography was derived directly from the one in my dissertation. That covered the two genera I plan to describe as new, as well as the North American Choerades. In other words it covered the flies that were once considered as Laphria, before Bombomima was synonymized, as well as any general papers on Laphria s. lat., anything of historical significance, and anything necessary to place a particular species within one of the four genera. This sounds like a lot. And in fact it is. But it is important to note it is NOT everything, if one wishes exhaustively to cover the entire tribe for North America north of Mexico. Namely, it omits references to collection and prey records for particular species of Laphria s. str., if these were segregated from larger works.

Now I once had all that material and still do. But it is not in a form I can easily access. Back in what seems like dim prehistory when I started my revision, I indexed all the literature available at the time for everything, including those disconnected references to particular species of Laphria s. str. This was long before the advent of personal computers. So my index was in paper form. It consisted of sheets of 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper, on which I manually typed the citation at the top, and then either typed (or more usually pasted photocopies) the pertinent lines on the page below. I then arranged the sheets in chronological order. Had they been amalgamated as typed into a binder it would have been about 10 inches thick. The stack was then placed in a small, portable plastic file cabinet.

As an aside, I did not originate this method myself. It was a direct copy of what I had used for my revision of the scale insect family Kermesidae. That review had been completed by one of my co-authors, Ron Baer, presumably following tried-and-true instructions from our advisor, Dr. Michael Kosztarab. "Kozy" as we called him, had overseen many taxonomic revisions. He was a machine at grinding them out, and had the practical aspects down pat. I thought the technique worked well.

And I must say it worked well for my Laphria revision, too, for many years. Those years are now past. I still have that cabinet, with everything packed tightly inside. The glue--rubber cement to be exact--has long since dried so thoroughly, that when I remove a sheet, at the slightest jolt the several cut-outs pasted on it go sailing off in different directions.

Just last week I had extracted the cabinet from its storage cubbyhole, and was contemplating how to fix the contents--perhaps by carefully laying out each sheet, photocopying it, and then using the photocopy or maybe even an OCR scan of it rather than the original. The one thing I decided is that the whole thing was a substantial project, best put off until after I completed my photography, verbal descriptions, and many other more pressing tasks.

Bottom line: I have gotten some of it already. I will eventually get to it all. It may just take some time.

Now back to the references from Lavigne. The annotations are his, modified slightly for the current format and coverage. I have yet to look at most of the papers for myself, either at all or with indexing for Laphriini in mind. The latter is true even for those papers like Fisher (1986) and Teskey (1976), for which I have copies and have looked at many times previously. The added papers are listed below in chronological order:

Townsend (1889)
Thompson (1891)
Slosson (1897)
Howard (1900)
Howard (1901a)
Johnson (1902)
Titus and Pratt (1904)
Fletcher (1908)
Rohwer (1912)
Skinner (1912)
Bell (1921)
Riley (1925)
Cockerell (1927)
Grover (1935)
Chamberlin (1939)
Tanner (1940)
Foxlee (1942)
Keilin (1944)
Carrera (1953)
Evans (1970)
Teskey (1976)
Thornhill (1978)
Fisher (1986)

I think this is a good place to thank Dr. Lavigne for what he has done for cataloging robber fly citations. His three papers updating Hull's original 1962 literature review form the indispensable backbone of any project or revision dealing with the group, and nothing comparable would exist if not for his tireless efforts over the years. In particular, I could never have even begun my revision of Laphria without drawing on his background, and I am sure many other current asilidologists owe him a similar debt, if only indirectly. Additionally, Bob's several illustrated booklets on robber flies were the inspiration for me getting into asilids in the first place. These booklets are well worth getting for anyone interested in the group. The citations are:

Lavigne, R. J. and F. R. Holland. 1969. Comparative behavior of eleven species of Wyoming robber flies (Diptera: Asilidae). University of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station Science Monograph 18, 61 pp.

Dennis, D. S. and R. J. Lavigne. 1975. Comparative behavior of Wyoming robber flies II (Diptera: Asilidae). University of Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station Science Monograph 30, 68 pp.

Rogers, L. E., and R. J. Lavigne. 1972. Asilidae of the Pawnee National Grasslands, in northeastern Colorado. University Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station Science Monograph 25, 35 pp.

I don't have copies of these handy at my current location, and there is nothing on the web I can check either. But if I remember correctly they do not include anything on Laphriini. They were among the first booklets that were well illustrated with photographs of robber flies in life.