Glenoleon falsus, copyright Dhobern.

Belongs within: Myrmeleontidae.

The Periclystina are a group of ant-lions with generally large gonapophyses in the females.

Ant-lions of Australia
Published 30 July 2012
Austrogymnocnemia edwardsi, photographed by Shaun Winterton.

For today’s post, I’ll be looking at a group of lacewings known as the Periclystina. Earlier posts on lacewings have looked at members of the families Chrysopidae, Kalligrammatidae and Hemerobiidae; the Periclystina belong to a further family, the Myrmeleontidae. Myrmeleontids are commonly known as ant-lions (indeed, Myrmeleon is derived from the Greek words for ‘ant’ and ‘lion’), particularly their larvae which are fat-bodied animals with large mandibles and flip-top heads. Ant-lion larvae dig themselves into soft ground at the bottom of a conical pit; when crawling insects such as ants walk over the edge of the pit, they end up sliding down to the bottom of the cone and into the waiting jaws of the ant-lion. Ant-lions can dig themselves into the ground quite quickly; this video from Wikipedia shows an ant-lion attempting to capture prey and digging itself into the ground.

Ceratoleon brevicornis, photographed by Shaun Winterton (again).

For all their charms, larval ant-lions could not be described as elegant animals. The adults, though, are as attractive as any lacewing, which is very attractive indeed. The Periclystina are a subtribe recognised by Stange (1976) within the tribe Dendroleontini of the subfamily Myrmeleontinae, and were distinguished by Stange from other dendroleontins primarily by features of the female genitalia (such as the absence of anterior gonapophyses). Stange included seven genera in the Periclystina, all of them endemic to Australia (one genus, Periclystus, has since also been found in New Guinea—New 1990). The Australian Dendroleontini were revised by New (1985), who pointed out that some of the features used by Stange (1976) to distinguish his subtribes were not entirely reliable. Though New did not formally dismantle Stange’s system, it is telling that he did not make any attempt to place his own new genera within it, and Stange’s subtribes may require further examination.

Angular-wing lacewing Periclystus circuiter, from Brisbane Insects.

Many Periclystina are large and eye-catchingly patterned. The species of Periclystus are particularly remarkable with oddly scalloped ends to their wings. The irregular wing shape together with their patchy markings function to camouflage the insect when it sits along a twig. Also remarkable is Ceratoleon brevicornis, with antennae much shorter than those of any other ant-lion. Other than that, I think the pictures I’m sharing with you here largely speak for themselves.

Glenoleon falsus, photographed by Donald Hobern.
Systematics of Periclystina

Characters (from New 1985): Tibial spurs usually absent or very small; claws not opposable on fifth tarsomere; female posterior gonapophyses usually very large, generally with thickened setae; anterior gonapophyses absent; gonapophysial plate usually transverse between bases of posterior gonapophyses; tergite IX usually with digitiform ventral processes.

    |--Chrysoleon Banks 1910N85
    |    `--*C. punctatum Banks 1910N85
    |--Franzenia Esben-Petersen 1929N85
    |    `--*F. irrorata Esben-Petersen 1929N85
    |--Ceratoleon Esben-Petersen 1917N85
    |    |--*C. brevicornis Esben-Petersen 1917N85
    |    `--C. mjobergi Esben-Petersen 1923N85
    |--Compsoleon Banks 1913N85
    |    |--*C. occultus (Walker 1853) [=Myrmeleon occultus]N85
    |    `--C. bembicidis New 1985N85
    |--Periclystus Gerstaecker 1888N85
    |    |--*P. laceratus Gerstaecker 1888N85
    |    |--P. aureolatus Tillyard 1916N85
    |    `--P. circuiter (Walker 1853) (see below for synonymy)N85
    |--Austrogymnocnemia Esben-Petersen 1917N85
    |    |--*A. bipunctata (Esben-Petersen 1915) [=Gymnocnemia bipunctata; incl. A. australis Esben-Petersen 1923]N85
    |    |--A. arcuata New 1985N85
    |    |--A. cardaleae New 1985N85
    |    |--A. edwardsi New 1985N85
    |    |--A. emmae New 1985N85
    |    |--A. forcipata New 1985N85
    |    |--A. interrupta (Esben-Petersen 1915) [=Gymnocnemia interrupta]N85
    |    |--A. lineata New 1985N85
    |    |--A. lulinguensis New 1985N85
    |    |--A. maculata (Tillyard 1916) [=Gymnocnemia maculata]N85
    |    |--A. nigrescens New 1985N85
    |    |--A. pallida New 1985N85
    |    |--A. pentagramma (Gerstaecker 1884) [=Gymnocnemia pentagramma]N85
    |    |--A. procta New 1985N85
    |    |--A. pygmaea New 1985N85
    |    |--A. sarahae New 1985N85
    |    |--A. striata New 1985N85
    |    `--A. tindalei New 1985N85
    `--Glenoleon Banks 1913N85
         |--*G. pulchellus (Rambur 1842) [=Myrmeleon pulchellus, Glenurus pulchellus]N85
         |--G. annulatus Esben-Petersen 1918N85
         |--G. aurora Tillyard 1916N85
         |--G. banksi New 1985N85
         |--G. berthoudi Tillyard 1916N85
         |--G. brevigonarcus New 1985N85
         |--G. cahillensis New 1985N85
         |--G. conspersum Banks 1918 [incl. G. franzeni Esben-Petersen 1926]N85
         |--G. dannyae New 1985N85
         |--G. dissolutus (Gerstaecker 1884) [=Myrmeleon dissolutus]N85
         |--G. drysdalensis New 1985N85
         |--G. falsus (Walker 1853) [=Myrmeleon falsus, Glenurus falsus]N85
         |--G. gerstaeckeri New 1985N85
         |--G. lesouefi New 1985N85
         |--G. maculatus New 1985N85
         |--G. mcalpinei New 1985N85
         |--G. meteoricus (Gerstaecker 1884) [=Myrmeleon meteoricus]N85
         |--G. minutillus New 1985N85
         |--G. mouldsorum New 1985N85
         |--G. mulesi New 1985N85
         |--G. nigristriatus New 1985N85
         |--G. osmyloides (Gerstaecker 1884) [incl. G. annulicorne Esben-Petersen 1915]N85
         |--G. parviproctus New 1985N85
         |--G. pictus New 1985N85
         |--G. pingrupensis New 1985N85
         |--G. radialis Banks 1913N85
         |--G. roseipennis Tillyard 1916N85
         |--G. rudda New 1985N85
         |--G. secula New 1985N85
         |--G. stigmatus Banks 1910N85
         |--G. tergitus New 1985N85
         `--G. tillyardi New 1985N85

Periclystus circuiter (Walker 1853) [=Myrmeleon circuiter, Glenurus circuiter; incl. Periclystus callipeplus Gerstaecker 1888]N85

*Type species of generic name indicated


[N85] New, T. R. 1985. A revision of the Australian Myrmeleontidae (Insecta: Neuroptera). II. Dendroleontini. Australian Journal of Zoology, Supplementary Series 105: 1–170.

New, T. R. 1990. Myrmeleontidae (Insecta: Neuroptera) from New Guinea. Invertebrate Taxonomy 4: 1–20.

Stange, L. A. 1976. Classificacion y catalogo mundial de la tribu Dendroleontini con la redescripcion del genero Voltor Navas (Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae). Acta Zoologica Lilloana 31: 261–322.

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