Ichneumon Wasps are large parasitoid Wasps (the largest species can exceed 5 cm) closely related to Braconids. They are noted for their reproductive behaviour, in which the females sting another Insect or Spider to paralyze it, then lay an egg on, in or near the victim, the larval Wasp emerges and consumes the paralyzed prey, typically keeping it alive (and therefore fresh) until ready to pupate. This behaviour is actually seen in a wide range of Wasp species, but tends to be noticed more in Ichneumons because of their large size.
In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 21 November 2014, Pascal Rousse of the Natural History Department at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town and the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University and Simon van Noort of the Natural History Department at the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town and the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town, describe two new species of Ichneumon Wasps from Africa as part of a review of the Ichneumon Wasp subfamily Ophioninae on the continent.
The first new species described is placed in the genus Dicamptus, and given the specific name maxipol, in reference to the large size of the gap between the two posterior ocelli (the back two of the three pit eyes between the two main compound eyes of a Wasp, Bee or Ant), which is called the post-ocellar line index (POL). The species is described from a single female specimen collected from the West Coast Fossil Park to the west of Langebaanweg in Western Cape Province, South Africa. The specimen is 20.8 mm long and orange and black in colour.
Dicamptus maxipol, female in lateral view. Rousse & van Noort (2014).
The second species is placed in the genus Enicospilus and given the specific name gauldetmitchellorum, which honours Ian Gauld and PA Mitchel, who mentioned a similar specimen as an undescribed species in a 1978 review of African Ophionine Wasps. The species is described from a single female specimen collected in the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania. The specimen is 18.8 mmin length and yellowish orange in colour.
Enicospilus gauldetmitchellorum, female in lateral view. Rousse & van Noort (2014).
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