peter slingsby's picture

Waspish ant mimic

Observed: 7th April 2015 By: peter slingsby
BirdLife South AfricaBotanical Society of South AfricaCedarberg ConservancyEntomological Society of Southern AfricaMountain Club of SA (Cape Town)Spider Club of South Africa
Invertebrates expert
0 Myrmecophore wasp 0 persp
0 Myrmecophore wasp 1
Antwasp 03 20150407
0 Dol Linepithema humile 1 persp

A startling find. While looking for Argentine ants on the walls of the Oudebosch office we found this: took it to be an ant until we saw those antenna. So like an Argentine ant it's uncanny, but hard to believe that a local insect would mimic an alien, so it may be mimicking Pheidole. The photo is not good: blue because it's taken through the polystyrene ziploc. The wasp is hardy too: survived 8 hours in the freezer at -10 deg. We wondered though if it's maybe mimicking Argentine [Linepithema humile] because it parasitizes or preys on them, [hence an introduced species?] in which case it could be good news [or bad if it found it's own way here from S America]. Please help identify! - or if you know an expert who can, I will willingly forward the specimen.

  • Vespoidea
    Confidence: It's likely to be this, but I can't be certain.
  • Diparinae
    Confidence: I'm as sure as I can be.
    Likely ID
    Conophorisca littoriticus
    Confidence: I'm as sure as I can be.
Species interactions

No interactions present.


Tony Rebelo's picture

Had a prominent sting but

Had a prominent sting but this was withdrawn - suggests a female and ovipositer rather than a sting.

Wonder if it lays an egg on a worker? I suppose it could sting an ant and carry it off for (eating or) lardering and then lay an egg, in which case a sting would be useful.

ID: Simon van Noort is your man.

jimmymac2's picture

1st Image

Shows a deathly smile...

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Simon van Noort's picture

WaspWeb link to species page for photos of the Holotype.

Note scale bar illustrating the small size of this species of parasitoid wasp. Biology of this genus is unknown. Based on current knowledge Conophorisca is endemic to South Africa.

Tony Rebelo's picture

Wow thanks!

And it is in our dictionary too - I dont know how that happened??

peter slingsby's picture


Well done, Simon - great info, so pleased its in the dictionary too. I guess the biology would be hard to determine - we'd need someone to spend several weeks in one of the Oudebosch 'ecolodges'. Queue on the left, please.

carina l's picture

Ant mimic?

Please help with ID on this one

peter slingsby's picture


It's definitely a wasp, not an ant - Simon van Noort is the one to help here. Simon?
As an ant-mimic it's quite large - could be imitating Myrmicaria or similar.

carina l's picture

Thanks Peter

Your website on ants is amazing. It has motivated me to look more closely at ants (and look-alike ants) but I will leave the ID's to the experts.

peter slingsby's picture

Wasp drawings

Size of eyes had worried me as I could not see them clearly either on my photo or the specimen, but I have improved them thanks to Simon van Noort's superb photos.

Tony Rebelo's picture

Please add the tag "Ant

Please add the tag "Ant mimic"