Panorpa bichai Byers,1993
Diagnosis: This is one of four species of Panorpa in the debilis group that are unified by the presence of unusually long, thin aedeagal hamuli as part of the male genitalia. This group has forewings with entire apical and pterostigmal bands and no basal spots along the costal margin. Males of the Panorpa debilis group have a series of stout bristles on a small lobe at the apex of the basistyles. The male ventral parameres of P. bichai are thin along their entire length, are sigmoidally curved, and extend half the length of the dististyles.
Distribution – Geographical: This species was originally described from four counties (Anderson, Frentress, Hawkins,Morgan Counties) in eastern Tennessee (Byers, 1993). Byers (2002) subsequently listed it from Monroe County, Indiana.
Distribution – Temporal: 5 August to 12 September (Byers, 1993). This species appears to have a single generation per year and emerge rather late in the growing season.
Ecology: One of the collecting localities, Frozen Head State Park, Tennessee, appears to be a cool, rocky, area of deciduous forest.
Biology: Nothing is known of the immature stages or life history of this species.
Notes: There are currently considered to be four closely-related species in this species group (P. appalachia, P. bichai, P. debilis, and P setifera). The other species in this group may be considered to be distinctive isolated populations of P. debilis. Panorpa setifera is known from several populations along the Wisconsin River at the western edge of the range of P. debilis. It differs from other populations of P. debilis in the much longer setae on the shorter ventral parameres (Webb, 1975). Panorpa bichai also appears very similar to P. debilis and is found in a relatively small area of Tennessee and central Indiana near the southwestern end of the distribution of that species (Byers, 2002). It varies from P. debilis in that the ventral parameres are more bowed outward at mid-length and extend further – half the length of the dististyles (Byers, 1993). Finally, P. appalachia is known from two male specimens from Haywood and Swain Counties, North Carolina. It differs from P. debilis in that the ventral parameres are much broader apically and the tines of the aedeagal hamulus are longer and thinner (Byers, 2002).
This species is named for Wesley Bicha of Oliver Springs, Tennessee, who is an avid collector and Mecoptera enthusiast. Today he ranks as one of the most knowledgeable specialists of this order, collecting and publishing on the fauna from all over the world. This series of web pages would not have been possible without his help with specimens and invaluable discussions of their relationships.
Byers, G.W. 1993. Autumnal Mecoptera of southeastern United States. University of Kansas Science Bulletin, 55(2):57-96.
-----. 2002. A new Appalachian scorpionfly (Mecoptera: Panorpidae). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 75(3):185-187.
Webb, D.W. 1975. New Species of Panorpa (Mecoptera: Panorpidae). Entomological News, 85:171-173.