Wednesday 4 July 2012

A new species of Antlion from China.

Antlions (Myrmeleontidae) are a group of carnivorous insects related to the Lacewings and Mantidflies. They get their name from their larvae, which feed almost exclusively on Ants, which they capture in conical pit-traps in loose sand. The Ants stray into the trap, then are caught as the sand tumbles down the sides and are unable to escape. The Antlion larva sits at the bottom of the pit, waiting for Ants to fall in.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 25 June 2012, Qingbin Zhan and Xinli Wang of the Department of Entomology at the China Agricultural University in Beijing describe a new species of Antlion from Guangxi Province in southern China.

The new species is placed in the genus Bankisus, which is interesting if correct, since Bankisus has only previously been recorded from Africa and the southern Arabian Peninsula, so this represents a major extension of its range, into a completely different biogeographical province. It is given the specific name sparsus, which means 'sprinkle' in Latin, due to the spots on its forewings. 

Bankisus sparsus is a 20 mm brownish insect with dark eyes and speckles on its forewings. It was found at two localities in Guangxi Province in southern China; Xiangzhou and Ningming, roughly 400 km apart.

Bankisus sparsus, from the Insect Collection of the China Agricultural University. Zhan & Wang (2012).

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