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Ropalidia species stylopized

(Life: Kingdom: Metazoa (animals): Phylum: Arthropoda: Class: Hexapoda; Order: Hymenoptera: Superfamily: Vespoidea: Family: Vespidae: Genus: Ropalidia)



South Africa.


This paper wasp has been stylopized by a species of Stylopidae (Order Strepsiptera). The wingless females can be seen protruding from between the wasp's abdominal segments. Male stylopids are winged and mate with the embedded females through a narrow slit-like opening situated between the female's head and thorax. Highly mobile larvae are subsequently released from the same opening. The triangulin larvae locate new hosts burrowing into them through the cuticle. Once inside they moult into maggot-like larvae that then feed internally on the new host. Pupation takes place inside the host with males emerging to fly away, but females stay embedded with only their highly modified head an thorax protruding (four individual females are evident in the above photographs). Stylopid infestation is not fatal to the host wasp.


Bequaert J.C. 1918. A revision of the Vespidae of the Belgian Congo based on the collection of the American Museum Congo Expedition: with a list of Ethiopian diplopterous wasps. Bulletin American Museum of Natural History 39: 1-384.


Photographs Vida van der Walt (Pretoria).

Map illustration Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

Web author Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum)


Citation: van Noort, S. 2023. WaspWeb: Hymenoptera of the Afrotropical region. URL: www.waspweb.org (accessed on <day/month/year>).

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