What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Myrmecolacidae

Overview

This family is known mainly from males which parasitise ants (Formicidae) (Ogloblin 1939). The females parasitise Orthoptera (Tettigoniidae, Gryllidae, Gryllotalpidae) and Mantodea (Mantidae), but very few of these are known. This host dimorphism of the sexes is unique in Strepsiptera and, indeed, in insect parasitoids.

Description

The segments of the 7-segmented antennae in Myrmecolacidae are narrow and rounded; the mandibles are knife-shaped and cross medially, the maxillae each have a small base and a long palp, and the tarsi are 4-segmented with no claws. The females are large with hooked protuberances.

Distribution

Males of Stichotrema vilhenai from Angola, parasitise Crematogaster sp. (Formicidae) and females parasitise the mantid Sphodromantis lineola pinguis (Luna de Carvalho 1972). Females of Stichotrema dallatorreanum have been recorded from Sexava nubilia (Orthoptera) in New Guinea (Young 1987), and one stylopised queen of Campanotus sp. (Formicidae) with a male pupa was found in a light trap on Misima Is. (Cagne unpubl.). A fossil, stylopised Camponotus ant has been discovered recently in the Eocene oil slate of Messel (Lutz unpubl.). In a nest of Pheidole sp. from South Africa, 47 major and minor workers were found to be parasitised by male Myrmecolacidae (Kathirithamby unpubl.).
The distribution of the four genera is circumtropical and Australian; there are about 22 species in Australia (N.T., Qld, N.S.W.).

  • Myrmecolax sp., adult male

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