Miscophus bicolor, copyright ernstklimsa.

Belongs within: Crabronidae.

Miscophus littoreus
Published 22 December 2018
Face of Miscophus littoreus, from Andrade (1960).

For this post’s semi-random subject, I drew the crabronid wasp species Miscophus littoreus. This small, mostly black wasp (about five millimetres in length) was described from Morocco by Nuno Freire de Andrade in 1960, with the original description seeming to still be the only source for information about it. Miscophus is a cosmopolitan genus, found on all continents except Australia and Antarctica (though its presence in South America seems marginal). They are characterised by wings with the outer veins reduced or lost so they have at most two submarginal and two discoidal cells, with the second submarginal cell (if present) triangular and petiolate, and mid-coxae that are very closely placed or touching each other along the midline. Miscophus littoreus is one of a group of closely related species within this genus found between north Africa and central Asia with the fuller complement of wing cells, and the features distinguishing it from other species in this group are rather fine: a slightly longer clypeus, a shinier and less punctate mesosoma. The wings are darker shaded towards the ends, and females have a tarsal comb (a series of longer spines along the front edge of the fore tarsus).

Another species of Miscophus, M. ater, from here.

There don’t seem to have been any natural history observations made for M. littoreus itself but we can infer that it is probably similar in behaviour to other species of Miscophus. North American Miscophus species dig nests as short burrows in sandy soil, only a few centimetres in length (Bohart & Menke 1976); this is why the females have the tarsal comb. Nests have at most only a few cells each, often only one. The cells are stocked with small spiders, often juveniles (though I suspect the preference for juvenile spiders has more to do with size preference than anything else. The tendency in many Miscophus species to show a reduction in the wing venation is related to a broader tendency in the genus to not be enthusiastic fliers. Most Miscophus females run along the ground rather than fly when hunting prey, and they do the same when carrying prey back to the nest. At most, they may make only short hopping flights. Miscophus individuals on the ground may be mistaken for ants, which they often hang around while foraging, hoping to avoid attention while they search for unsuspecting spiders.

Systematics of Miscophus
<==Miscophus Jurine 1807BM76
    |--*M. (Miscophus) bicolor Jurine 1807BM76 (see below for synonymy)
    `--M. (Nitelopterus Ashmead in Kohl 1896) [incl. Hypomiscophus Cockerell 1898, Miscophinus Ashmead 1898]BM76
         |--M. (*N.) slossonae (Ashmead in Kohl 1896) [=*Nitelopterus slossonae]BM76
         |    |--M. s. slossonaeBM76
         |    `--M. s. barberi (Krombein 1954) [=Nitelopterus barberi]BM76
         |--M. (N.) arenarum Cockerell 1898 [=*Hypomiscophus arenarum]BM76
         `--M. (N.) laticeps (Ashmead 1898) [=*Miscophinus laticeps]BM76
Miscophus incertae sedis:
  M. abscondicus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. aegyptius Morice 1897 [incl. M. politus Honoré 1944]BM76
  M. aenescens (Bridwell 1920) [=Hypomiscophus aenescens]BM76
  M. aenigma Honoré 1944BM76
  M. affinis Pulawski 1964BM76
  M. agadiriensis Andrade 1954BM76
  M. akrofisianus Balthasar 1953BM76
  M. albomaculatus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. albufeirae Andrade 1952BM76
    |--M. a. albufeiraeBM76
    `--M. a. anatolicus Beaumont 1967BM76
  M. alfierii Honoré 1944BM76
  M. americanus Fox 1890BM76
  M. andradei Verhoeff 1955BM76
  M. antares Andrade 1956BM76
  M. arnoldi Turner 1929BM76
  M. ater Lepeletier 1845 [incl. M. maritimus Smith 1858]BM76
  M. atlanteus Andrade 1956BM76
  M. bellulus Arnold 1925BM76
  M. belveriensis Andrade 1960BM76
  M. benidormicus Verhoeff 1955BM76
  M. berlandi Andrade 1956BM76
  M. bonifaciensis Ferton 1896BM76
  M. bytinskii Verhoeff 1955BM76
  M. californicus (Ashmead 1898) [=Miscophinus californicus]BM76
  M. canariensis Beaumont 1968BM76
    |--M. c. canariensisBM76
    `--M. c. nigrifemur Beaumont 1968BM76
  M. caninus Andrade 1953BM76
  M. ceballosi Andrade 1954BM76
  M. chrysis Kohl 1894BM76
  M. clypearis Honoré 1944BM76
  M. coerulescens Arnold 1923BM76
  M. collaris Honoré 1944BM76
  M. concolor Dahlbom 1844 [incl. M. insubricus Costa 1867, M. moravicus Balthasar 1957]BM76
  M. corsicus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. crispus Arnold 1925BM76
  M. ctenopus Kohl 1884 (see below for synonymy)BM76
  M. cyanescens Turner 1917BM76
  M. cyanurus (Rohwer 1909) [=Miscophinus cyanurus]BM76
  M. cypriacus Andrade 1953BM76
    |--M. c. cypriacusBM76
    `--M. c. obscurus Andrade 1954BM76
  M. deserti Berland 1943BM76
  M. deserticola Turner 1929BM76
  M. difficilis Nurse 1903BM76
  M. dispersus Andrade 1954BM76
  M. eatoni Saunders 1903BM76
  M. elegans Andrade 1960BM76
  M. evansi (Krombein 1963) [=Nitelopterus evansi]BM76
  M. eximius Gussakovskij 1936BM76
  M. exoticus Taschenberg 1870BM76
  M. flavopictus Pulawski 1964BM76
  M. funebris Honoré 1944BM76
  M. galei (Rohwer 1909) [=Miscophinus galei]BM76
  M. garianensis Andrade 1956BM76
  M. gegensumus Tsuneki 1971BM76
  M. gibbicollis Giner Marí 1945BM76
  M. gineri Verhoeff 1955BM76
  M. gobiensis Tsuneki 1972BM76
  M. grangeri Beaumont 1968BM76
  M. gratiosus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. gratuitus Andrade 1954BM76
  M. guichardi Beaumont 1968BM76
  M. gussakovskiji Andrade 1954BM76
  M. handlirschi Kohl 1892BM76
  M. hebraeus Andrade 1954BM76
  M. heliophilus Pulawski 1968BM76
  M. helveticus Kohl 1883 [incl. M. gallicus Kohl 1884, M. rufus Giner Marí 1943]BM76
    |--M. h. helveticusBM76
    |--M. h. rubriventris Ferton 1896BM76
    `--M. h. viator Andrade 1954BM76
  M. hissaricus Gussakovskij 1935BM76
  M. histrionicus Balthasar 1953BM76
  M. ichneumonoides Arnold 1929BM76
  M. imitans Giner Marí 1945BM76
  M. impudens Andrade 1960BM76
  M. inconspicuus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. infernalis Arnold 1929BM76
  M. insolitus Andrade 1953 [incl. M. beaumonti Balthasar 1953]BM76
  M. insulicola Balthasar 1953BM76
  M. italicus Costa 1867BM76
  M. kansensis (Slansky 1969) [=Nitelopterus kansensis]BM76
  M. karrooensis Arnold 1923BM76
  M. kohli Brauns 1899BM76
  M. kriechbaumeri Brauns 1899BM76
  M. levantinus Balthasar 1953BM76
  M. littoreus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. luctuosus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. lugubris Arnold 1929BM76
  M. lusitanicus Andrade 1952BM76
    |--M. l. lusitanicusBM76
    |--M. l. nomadus Andrade 1953BM76
    `--M. l. thracius Pulawski 1962BM76
  M. maculipes Arnold 1945BM76
  M. maurus (Rohwer 1909) [=Miscophinus maurus]BM76
  M. mavromoustakisi Andrade 1953BM76
    |--M. m. mavromoustakisiBM76
    `--M. m. cappadocicus Beaumont 1967BM76
  M. merceti Andrade 1952 [incl. M. hispanicus Mercet in Ceballos 1943 (n. n.)]BM76
    |--M. m. mercetiBM76
    `--M. m. orientalis Beaumont 1967BM76
  M. mimeticus Honoré 1944BM76
  M. minutus Andrade 1953BM76
  M. mochii Arnold 1940BM76
  M. modestus Arnold 1929BM76
  M. mongolicus Tsuneki 1972BM76
  M. montanus Gussakovskij 1935BM76
  M. nevesi Andrade 1952BM76
  M. nicolai Ferton 1896BM76
    |--M. n. nicolaiBM76
    `--M. n. rufescens Andrade 1960BM76
  M. niger Dahlbom 1844BM76
  M. nigricans Cameron 1907BM76
  M. nigrescens (Rohwer 1909) [=Miscophinus nigrescens]BM76
  M. nigriceps (Rohwer 1911) [=Miscophinus nigriceps]BM76
  M. nigripes Honoré 1944 [incl. M. lotus Andrade 1954]BM76
  M. niloticus Honoré 1944BM76
  M. nitidior Beaumont 1968BM76
  M. nobilis Andrade 1960BM76
  M. numidus Beaumont 1968BM76
  M. obscuritarsis Pulawski 1964BM76
  M. occidentalis Andrade 1960BM76
  M. oraniensis Brauns 1906BM76
  M. othello Balthasar 1953BM76
  M. papyrus Andrade 1954BM76
  M. pardoi Andrade 1954BM76
  M. pharaonis Arnold 1940 [incl. M. frater Honoré 1944]BM76
  M. portoi Andrade 1956BM76
  M. postumus Bischoff 1922BM76
  M. pretiosus Kohl 1884BM76
    |--M. p. pretiosusBM76
    `--M. p. brunnescens Honoré 1944BM76
  M. priomogeniti Andrade 1954BM76
  M. pseudomimeticus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. pseudonotogonia Brauns 1899BM76
  M. pulcher Andrade 1953BM76
  M. punicus Andrade 1954BM76
  M. quettaensis Nurse 1903BM76
  M. rhodesianus Turner 1917BM76
  M. rothneyi Bingham 1897BM76
  M. rufiventris Tsuneki 1972BM76
  M. sallitus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. scintillans Andrade 1956BM76
  M. sericeus Radoszkowski 1876BM76
  M. seyrigi Arnold 1945BM76
  M. similis Morawitz 1896BM76
  M. sirius Andrade 1956BM76
  M. soikai Beaumont 1952BM76
  M. sordidatus Arnold 1945BM76
  M. specularis Andrade 1960BM76
  M. spurius (Dahlbom 1832) [=Larra spuria; incl. M. unicolor Schummel 1831 (n. n.)]BM76
  M. stevensoni Arnold 1923BM76
  M. susterai Balthasar 1953BM76
  M. syriacus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. tagiurae Andrade 1954BM76
  M. temperatus Andrade 1954BM76
  M. texanus (Ashmead 1898) [=Miscophinus texanus]BM76
  M. timberlakei (Bridwell 1920) [=Hypomiscophus timberlakei]BM76
  M. tinctus Andrade 1956BM76
  M. transcaspicus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. tsunekii Andrade 1960BM76
  M. unigena Balthasar 1953BM76
  M. venustus Beaumont 1969BM76
  M. verecundus Arnold 1925BM76
  M. verhoeffi Andrade 1952BM76
    |--M. v. verhoeffiBM76
    `--M. v. nitidus Andrade 1960BM76
  M. yermasoensis Balthasar 1953BM76
  M. zakakiensis Balthasar 1953BM76
Nomina nuda: Miscophus guigliae Gussakovskij in Soika 1939BM76
             Miscophus venetianus Gussakovskij in Soika 1939BM76

*Miscophus (Miscophus) bicolor Jurine 1807BM76 [=Larra (M.) bicolor non L. bicolor Fabricius 1804G20; incl. L. dubia Panzer 1806-1809BM76, Miscophus metallicus Verhoeff 1890BM76]

Miscophus ctenopus Kohl 1884 [incl. M. gigas Giner Marí 1945, M. honorei Balthasar 1953, M. manzonii Gribodo 1884, M. rubriventris Honoré 1944 non Ferton 1896]BM76

*Type species of generic name indicated


Andrade, N. F. de. 1960. Palaearctic Miscophus: bicolor group and isolated species (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae). Memórias e Estudos do Museu Zoológico da Universidade de Coimbra 262: 3–136.

[BM76] Bohart, R. M., & A. S. Menke. 1976. Sphecid Wasps of the World. University of California Press: Berkeley.

[G20] Goldfuss, G. A. 1820. Handbuch der Naturgeschichte vol. 3. Handbuch der Zoologie pt 1. Johann Leonhard Schrag: Nürnberg.

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