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New species of Darwin parasitoid wasps discovered

11/12/2023

Simon van Noort and Terry Reynolds

(Research and Exhibitions Department, Iziko Museums of South Africa)

Large numbers of undescribed insect species have been discovered during the last thirty years of exploration of South Africa’s biodiversity by Iziko scientists. A recent follow-up taxonomic revision of the Darwin wasp genus Cryptopimpla (Banchinae, Ichneumonidae) has led to the description of an additional two new species. Six species were previously described by the authors in 2016. In Africa the genus is only found in the Cape Floral Kingdom in South Africa. The species are rare with most species only known from one or a couple of specimens. We described and named two new species both of which are endemic to South Africa (i.e. found nowhere else in the world): Cryptopimpla hoerikwaggaReynolds & van Noort, 2023 and Cryptopimpla orenji Reynolds & van Noort, 2023. Interactive identification keys to the species of Cryptopimpla occurring in Africa are publicly available at: http://waspweb/Ichneumonoidea/Ichneumonidae/Banchinae/Keys/index.htm

Cryptopimpla hoerikwaggaReynolds & van Noort, 2023, named after the Khoisan word for Table Mountain which is the only known locality for this species. Photographs by Terry Reynolds © Iziko Museums of South Africa.

Cryptopimpla orenji Reynolds & van Noort, 2023, named for the orange colour of this species. Photographs by Terry Reynolds © Iziko Museums of South Africa.

Very little is known about the biology of Cryptopimpla species. They are parasitoids, but the host insects of the South African species are unknown. Based on what we know about the biology of species occurring in the Northern Hemisphere our local species are likely to also be attacking moth caterpillars.

The currently recorded distribution of Cryptopimpla species from all of Africa is depicted above. The African species are restricted to the southern temperate areas of South Africa.

The publication in which these new species were described:

Reynolds T, van Noort S. 2023. Two new species of the genus Cryptopimpla Taschenberg (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae, Banchinae) with an updated key to African species. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 96: 667-696. https://doi.org/10.3897/jhr.96.104038

These newly described wasps belong to the extremely diverse insect order Hymenoptera (ants, bees and wasps), which is the focus of entomological research at the Iziko South African Museum.

Simon van Noort is Curator of Entomology having conducted research on wasp systematics and evolution at Iziko since 1992.
https://www.iziko.org.za/researcher/simon-van-noort
http://www.figweb.org/Research/Laboratories/van_Noort/index.htm
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Simon_Noort
Terry Reynolds is a former post-doctoral researcher at Iziko and now has a position in the Biosystematics division of the ARC in Pretoria.
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Terry_Berry
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