Research activities

Taxonomic research on parasitic Hymenoptera at the South African National Collection of Insects (SANC) has, for many years, focussed almost exclusively on the Chalcidoidea, with the emphasis on the families Encyrtidae and Aphelinidae of the Afrotropical Region. These two families rate among the most important groups of natural enemies in biological control, with many species having been attributed with the successful control of various homopterous pests throughout the world. Other groups receiving attention include phytophagous eurytomids, pteromalids and eulophids of importance in the biological control of invasive plants.

Projects in progress

  • Electronic databasing of the chalcidoid holdings, which contain many thousands of invaluable host and host plant records that have accumulated in the SANC over many years through extensive surveys and the rearing of parasitoids in southern Africa.
  • Parasitic wasp identification and information service – this forms part of the insect identification service of the Biosystematics Programme

Recent publications on parasitic wasps

KELLY, J., LA SALLE, J., HARNEY, M., DITTRICH –SCHR?DER, G. & HURLEY, B. 2012. Selitrichodes neseri n. sp., a new parasitoid of the eucalyptus gall wasp Leptocybe invasa Fisher & La Salle. Zootaxa 3333:50-57 (2012)

VAN ACHTERBERG, C. & PRINSLOO, G.L. 2012 Braconidae (Hymenoptera: Opiinae, Alysiinae) reared from aquatic leaf-mining diptera on Lagarosiphon major (Hydrocharitaceae) in South Africa. African Entomology 20 (1): 124-133

NESER,O.C. 2012. The first record of Astichus Förster (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae: Entiinae), parasitoids of Ciidae (Coleoptera) in bracket fungi, from the Afrotropical Region and the description of four new species from South Africa. Zootaxa 3183: 49–64

PRINSLOO, G.L. 2010. On some Afrotropical species of Aloencyrtus (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae): parasitoids of soft scales (Hemiptera: Coccidae). Zootaxa 2716: 1-28

PRINSLOO, GL. & KELLY, J.A. 2009. The tetrastichinae wasps (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Eulophidae) associated with galls on Erythrina species (Fabaceae) in South Africa, with description of five new species. Zootaxa 2083:27-45

O.C. NESER, 2008. Eurytoma bryophylli sp. n. (Hymenoptera: Eurytomidae), a leaf-borer of Bryophyllum delagoense Crassulaceae) from Madagascar and a candidate for the biocontrol of the plant in Australia. African Entomology 16(1): 60–67

MELIKA, G & PRINSLOO, G.L. 2007. Phanacis neserorum sp.n. (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae: Aylacini): First record of a phytophagus Afrotropical cynipoid gall wasp. African Entomology 15: 185-191

PRINSLOO, G.L. & O.C. NESER, 2007. Revision of the pteromalid wasp genus Trichilogaster Mayr (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea): gall-inducers on Australian acacias. African Entomology 15: 161-184

PRINSLOO, G.L. 2005. Description of Pycnetron pix sp.n. (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae), an indigenous parasitoid of the exotic pine weevil Pissodes nemorensis (Curculionidae) in South Africa, and comments on the identity of Pycnetron longicauda (Risbec). African Entomology 13:341-346

PRINSLOO, G.L. 2004. Oxysychus genualis (Walker) (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae): a first record of an indigenous parasitoid of the introduced eucalyptus borer, Phoracantha semipunctata (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae), in South Africa. African Entomology 12(2): 271–274

NESER, O.C. & PRINSLOO, G.L. 2004. Seed-feeding species of Bruchophagus Ashmead (Hymenoptera: Eurytomidae) associated with native Australian acacias that are invasive in South Africa, with the description of two new species. Australian Journal of Entomology 43(1): 46–56

The Parasitic Hymenoptera Collection

Although the parasitic Hymenoptera holdings of the SANC include all higher taxa, many groups such as the Ichneumonoidea, Platygastroidea, Proctotrupoidea and Cynipoidea are under-represented in terms of identified material and type specimens of South African species. These collections are, however, extremely valuable in that they contain extensive host data and important voucher material pertaining to more than a century’s applied research in South Africa.

The most valuable component of the collection comprises the Chalcidoidea, of which the Encyrtidae and Aphelinidae are particularly well represented through extensive research that has been done on the Afrotropical fauna of these two families at the SANC during the past 40 years. This research has culminated in one of the most comprehensive collections of Afrotropical Encyrtidae and Aphelinidae. This collection is renowned for its host-reared material and extensive slide collection, containing several thousand slide-mounted specimens. Apart from the African fauna, the collection contains many taxa from other zoogeographical regions and is particularly rich in species of importance to the biological control of homopterous pests of agricultural crops and the biological control of invasive plants.

The holdings of many of the other major chalcidoid families, such as the Eulophidae, Pteromalidae, Eurytomidae and Eupelmidae, are less well represented in terms of identified specimens, but contain large amounts of invaluable unidentified material and material identified to genus level. Much of this material has been host reared and is at present being databased to make the information more usable and readily accessible.

Contact person: Mrs Ros Urban, Collections Manager, Campus: Roodeplaat (West)