The big species remain controversial in this genus in our area. We (Norm Lavers and I) initially thought that all very large Laphriinae in Arkansas had to be Laphria lata Macquart. Being the kind-hearted guys we were, we stopped taking the big things that first year of collecting after getting one each for the study. Unfortunately we started seeing these big gals and guys with no yellow on them. Kind of this burnt orange all over. Decided they were a color morph. I am told they may not be L. lata by some of the robber experienced. And Norm seems to think we have some big Laphria grossa around here as well. Jeff Barnes currently believes by genital comparisons that grossa and lata, at least in our area, may not be distinct.

This pictured robber was easily over 30 mm long. Note the slightly extruded piercing device. I sent Steve Bullington (the Laphria man) a shot of this but I think the poor guy was overloaded. I have since communicated with him. Bullington does mention at least two color forms of Laphria grossa (see below). Whichever species this turns out to be, it is impressive.

Norm believes this is a yellow form Laphria grossa. Compare with a Giff Beaton shot from Georgia. I still cannot say for certain until we take some more of these giants. It is possible that grossa and lata are color form variations of a single species since the male genitalia do appear to be virtually indistinguishable. Also note the tuft of yellowish hair in front of the halteres. This separates these creatures from one of the other large species. I bow to Norm's greater hands-on experience with this group. Either way, it is a fine Lavers' photo.

This specimen from the same general geographical area seems to have some yellow hair in front of the wings. Making it tough to call grossa. We have been trying to turn it into vorax ever since. It has an otherwise similar appearance and was large. This is a female as well. The other species to contend with historically are indeed Laphria vorax and Laphria fattigi. L vorax is a prairie loving species known from remnant prairies in north, west and SE Arkansas. It would be a remarkable find in central Arkansas but the burned controlled areas of Camp Robinson WDA are a good spot to start. L fattigi is known mainly from a single female taken in Georgia by P. W. Fattig in his Robber Flies of Georgia paper from 1945. Bromley stole the specimen for description. L. fattigi females have red hair amidst the abdominal yellows. Though who knows how consistent this is with these beasts and only a few specimens known.

The facial shot of another Laphria grossa with a scarab. Note how the big grossa and lata pair often are balding in the center of the thorax. Both have that very dense facial yellow. And both, of course, are monster-sized compared to the prey they choose.

The dirty orange and large Laphria lata. Compare with the top image. This one has very little balding on the thorax. These may be my favorite robbers. Note that in the male of this species the lateral orbital hair is orange.

The female of the orange L. lata from the same day as the shot just above. Note the darker lateral orbital hair. She kept her wings open while she eyed me closely. What insect is more impressive than that?

And an orange specimen from Bell again in 2015. Female on the upper Bell trail during a hot slow butterfly count day. Still personally believe these are all one species. And the lata/grossa animal comes in yellow/orange/black forms. Still looking for the shot of two different forms locked together breeding.

The female of a dark large species from Little River Refuge in Oklahoma's fine McCurtain county. It is the blackest lata ever. Berlin was kind enough to send a male for definite ID. And they were certainly latas.

Male from the same area with an even cleaner shot from Berlin. The slightest suggestion of some orange but really very black compared to all other lata we have seen. Flower scarabs apparently still the favorite food of all the big Laphria.

Male from just south of Berlin's animals above at Red Slough. Just a bit more orange detectable. The color genetics of this species complex must be, well, complex.