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Rare New Wasp Species Named

19/10/2022

New species of rare Dinapsis parasitoid wasps named

Simon van Noort

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

Thirty years of discovery and documentation of South Africa’s insect species through implementation of invertebrate inventory surveys by Iziko scientists has resulted in huge numbers of undescribed species. A recent taxonomic revision of a rare, archaic parasitoid wasp genus, Dinapsis belonging to the family Megalyridae has led to the description of seven new species. The genus was previously only known from two species occurring in continental Africa: Dinapsis centralis Shaw & van Noort, 2009 (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Kenya, Uganda) and Dinapsis turneri Waterston, 1922 (South Africa); and 11 species from Madagascar. These two species were both only known from single specimens prior to this revision.

Photographs © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

We described and named seven new species of which three are endemic to South Africa (i.e. found nowhere else in the world): Dinapsis bicolor van Noort & Shaw, 2022 (South Africa); Dinapsis gamka van Noort & Shaw, 2022 (South Africa); and Dinapsis zulu Shaw & van Noort, 2022 (South Africa). The other four new species occur further north in Africa: Dinapsis igneus van Noort & Shaw, 2022 (Mauritius); Dinapsis spinitibia van Noort & Shaw, 2022 (Tanzania); Dinapsis taita van Noort & Shaw, 2022 (Burundi, Kenya); Dinapsis tricolor Shaw & van Noort, 2022 (Kenya, South Africa). We also rediscovered the South African species Dinapsis turneridescribed by Waterston in 1922 and previously only known from the holotype specimen collected in Ceres. Comprehensive inventory surveys of previously poorly sampled habitats, conducted by Iziko scientist Simon van Noort, returned another 14 specimens, extending the distributional range of this Western Cape species to the Eastern and Northern Cape provinces. Further specimens of Dinapsis centralis were also discovered, adding new country records to the distribution of this central African species.

Photograph © Steve Marshall (University of Guelph).

To our knowledge this is the only photograph of a living specimen of Dinapsis: a female of Dinapsis albicoxa photographed in Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar. Photograph © Steve Marshall (University of Guelph).

Photographs © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

Nothing is known about the biology of species in the genus Dinapsis. The only known host records for the family Megalyridae are for two Australian species of Megalyra which attack wood-boring beetle grubs or larvae of mud nesting wasps.

Photographs © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

We developed interactive identification keys to the Meglayridae genera and species occurring in Africa, which are publicly available at: http://www.waspweb.org/Megalyroidea/Megalyridae/Keys/index.htm.

The currently recorded distribution of Dinapsis species from continental Africa is depicted above. The gaps with no records on the map are a biased artefact because of a lack of focused collecting having been carried out in these countries. The genus is expected to be far more widespread and is probably present in most African countries with numerous further new species still to be discovered and named.

The publication in which these new species were described:

van Noort S, Shaw S, Copeland R. 2022. Revision of the endemic African genus Dinapsis (Dinapsini, Megalyridae, Hymenoptera) with description of seven new speciesZooKeys 1112: 27-122https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.1112.82307  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.

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