*daviesi (Bagnall, 1935)
*flavescens (Bagnall, 1935)
*flavidula (Bagnall, 1939)
*lata (Gisin, 1956)
*magnicornis (Bagnall, 1937)
*prolata (Gisin, 1956)
*sublata (Gisin, 1957)
*uliginata (Gisin, 1952)
Numerous species within theProtaphorura armata 'group' have been described. All have simple vesicles in the post-antennal organ (Fig. 1), a furca present as a tiny vestigial flap, two anal spines, and empodium of the foot long and filamentous about the same length as the claw.
The 'typical' PSO formula of Protaphorura aurantiaca is 33/022/33343 but there is considerable variation (Figs. 2 to 5). Brian Pitkin suggested that the number of PSO on the third thoracic segment (th3) could be used for separating Protaphorura aurantiaca (th3 with 2+2 PSO; Fig. 2) and Protaphorura armata (th3 with 3+3 PSO).
In her PhD thesis Juliette Filsner started using DNA sequences of nuclear and mitochondrial genes to classify Protaphorura in the armata group, using specimens from Germany and Nordic countries, but not including any Protaphorura armata. There was agreement between genetic and classical approaches for a few names, notably Protaphorura fimata. Protaphorura fimata has not yet been confirmed in the UK - Steve Hopkin noted that all the specimens in the NHM labelled this were Protaphorura aurantiaca. The PSO formula of Protaphorura fimata is 33/022/33333, differing from P. aurantiaca only in abd 4. Since Protaphorura fimata is always described as white, while P. aurantiaca is yellow in life, confusion should not occur if field specimens can be inspected. The yellow colour fades in alcohol and could be missed, especially in cleared specimens.
The red dots on the map show the localities of specimens with 2+2 pseudocelli (PSO) on the third thoracic segment (th3) confirmed by Steve Hopkin (many were labelled armata). The green dots are literature records for Protaphorura aurantiaca and its synonyms. As can be seen, there is considerable overlap with the distribution of armata (armata and aurantiaca are occasionally found together in the same sample) and the possibility cannot be excluded that they are varieties of the same species.
Protaphorura aurantiaca is yellow in life (fades to white in alcohol!) whereas Protaphorura armata is normally white . Other characters (particularly presence or absence of seta s' on abd5, and the degree of convergence of lines drawn through the two pairs of setae anterior to the anal spines) are not reliable. Occasionally, an asymmetrical arrangement of pseudocelli makes it difficult to assign a definitive species identification and it is probably safest to assign such specimens to the Protaphorura armata 'group'.
Yellow onychiurids have started to turn up on the Flickr photo-sharing website, and have been named as Protaphorura aurantiaca by Frans Janssens (eg here). These are likely to be correct, but there must be some question over visual ID of members of this group.