Melaloncha maculata Borgmeier, 1934

Brown, Brian V., 2006, Revision of the untreated taxa of Melaloncha s. s. bee-killing flies (Diptera: Phoridae), Zootaxa 1280 (1), pp. 1-68 : 58-59

publication ID 10.11646/zootaxa.1280.1.1

publication LSID


persistent identifier

treatment provided by


scientific name

Melaloncha maculata Borgmeier


Melaloncha maculata Borgmeier

Figs. 47 View FIGURES 43–53 , 63 View FIGURES 62–63

Melaloncha maculata Borgmeier, 1934, p. 176 , plate 3 fig. 4 (♀; Higuito, Costa Rica).

Holotype. ♀, COSTA RICA: Higuito, San Mateo, [no date given], P. Schild [ LACM ENT 210968 View Materials ] (examined; USNM).

Recognition. Females are easily recognized by the enlarged seta extending from the posterolateral apex of tergites 4 and especially 5, as well as the dorsally curved, setose ovipositor.

The male, described here for the first time, keys to M. pulchella Brues in the latest key to Melaloncha males ( Borgmeier 1971b), but differs in that the pleuron is variegated brown and yellow, unlike the black thorax reported for M. pulchella (whose specimens are all lost).

Description. Female. Body length 1.6–2.1 mm. Frons yellow, bare of small setae except along eye margin; ocellar triangle black. Mean frontal width 0.41 head width, range 0.39–0.43. Ocular and genal setae yellow to brown. Flagellomere 1 white basally, most of segment yellow; segments 1–2 of arista yellow, aristomere 3 black. Palpus white; palpal setulae brown, relatively long; apical seta black. Scutum yellowish­brown with various posterior dark markings; usually with relatively small posterolateral dark spot, or with large, dark posteromedial spot. Scutellum dark brown to light brown with round anterolateral dark spot. Pleuron yellow except basalare black. Legs yellowish­brown, except apical foretarsomere brown. Combined length of foretarsomeres approximately 0.9 length of foretibia. Foretarsal claws recurved, with large basal lobe. Mean costal length 0.46 wing length, range 0.44–0.47. Halter yellow. Abdominal tergites yellow with black posterior strip; in some specimens tergites 4­5 black; posterolateral apex of tergites 4 and 5 with enlarged setae. Venter of abdomen yellow. Ovipositor basally yellow, but mostly black; elongate, tubular, curved dorsally; ovipositor densely setose, with especially long, dense setae dorsally. Intersegment 7–8 with distinctive, short apical segment.

Male. Frons yellow; ocellar triangle black. Flagellomere 1 basally white, apically yellow. Palpus white; palpal setulae black. Postocular and genal setae black. Scutum dark brown. Pleuron with patches of brown to yellow color (see photo on website). Legs yellowish­brown except apex of hind femur dark brown; coxae strongly contrasting with darker pleuron. Abdominal tergites black, anteriorly with silver pollinosity. Venter of abdomen dark gray. Extreme base of cercus brown, apically yellow. Surstylus with short setae.

Host. We have seen this species attack various Plebeia spp. They have a distinctive mode of attack, where females alight behind or on stationary bees, and take up a position on their wings (herein termed “piggybacking”). The fly extends her ovipositor under the bee’s wings, and inserts the tip into the abdomen, between the anteriormost tergites. Females of M. hyalinipennis have a similar mode of attack.

Distribution. Widespread in the Neotropical Region, from Nicaragua to Brazil and Bolivia.

Other material examined. BOLIVIA: La Paz: 40 km N Caranavi, Cumbre Alto Beni, 15.83°S, 67.56°W, 1♀, 15.iv.2003, 1♀, 18.iv.2003, B. Brown, S. Marcotte, E. Zumbado, ( LACM) GoogleMaps , 1♀, 14.iv.2004, 3♀, 16.iv.2004, 4♀, 17.iv.2004, 4♀, 19.iv.2004, B. Brown, E. Zumbado, honey spray ( CBFC, LACM) , 50 km N Caranavi , 15.66°S, 67.44°W, 1♀, 17.iv.2004, B. Brown, honey spray, second growth forest, 1100 m ( LACM) GoogleMaps . BRAZIL: Bahia: [no other locality data], 1♀, 1930, R. Shannon ( MZSP) . COLOMBIA: Cauca: Isla Gorgona , 2.97°N, 78.18°W, 1♀, 1–4.iii.2000, 2♀, 2–4.iii.2000, B. Brown, G. Kung, M. Sharkey, Malaise trap #11, Malaise trap #15 ( LACM, UNCB) GoogleMaps . COSTA RICA: Alajuela: Alberge de Heliconia , 10.71°N, 85.04°W, 2♀,, B. Brown, attacking Plebeia sp. ( LACM) GoogleMaps ; Heredia: La Selva Biological Station , 10.43°N, 84.02°W, 1♀, 2.iii.1993, ALAS, Malaise trap M/01/016, 1♀, 13.xi.1997, ALAS, Malaise trap M/18/690 ( INBC) GoogleMaps , 2♀, 21.vii.2000, G. Kung, bee screen ( LACM) ; Limón: Pacuarito , 10.11°N, 83.46°W, 1♀, 22–25.viii.1996, B. Gustafsson, T. Pape, B. Viklund, Malaise trap ( LACM) GoogleMaps ; San José: Zona Protectora El Rodeo, 9.91°N, 84.28°W, 3♀, 2.viii.2001, 2♀, 3.viii.2001, 4♀, 5.viii.2001, 1♂, 1♀ (in copula pair), 6.viii.2001, 9♀, 8.viii.2001, B. Brown, G. Kung, attracted to honey spray, attacking Plebeia bees ( LACM, MCZC, MUCR, USNM) GoogleMaps , 3♀, 3–8.viii.2001, B. Brown, G. Kung, V. Berezovskiy, Malaise trap #1, 1♀, 5–8.viii.2001, B. Brown, G. Kung, V. Berezovskiy, Malaise trap #2, 1000 m ( LACM) . NICARAGUA: Rio San Juan: Refugio Bartola , 16 km ESE El Castillo, 10.98°N, 84.34°W, 1♀, 22.iv–10.v.1999, L. Lapierre, Malaise trap ( LACM) GoogleMaps .


Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County


Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History


Sao Paulo, Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo


Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio)


Museo de Insectos














Melaloncha maculata Borgmeier

Brown, Brian V. 2006

Melaloncha maculata

Borgmeier, T. 1934: 176
Darwin Core Archive (for parent article) View in SIBiLS Plain XML RDF