Enicospilus merdarius ( Gravenhorst, 1829 ),

Broad, Gavin R. & Shaw, Mark R., 2016, The British species of Enicospilus (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae: Ophioninae), European Journal of Taxonomy 187, pp. 1-31: 16-20

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Enicospilus merdarius ( Gravenhorst, 1829 )


Enicospilus merdarius ( Gravenhorst, 1829) 

Figs 1View Fig, 2CView Fig, 11AView Fig, 13AView Fig, 19AView Fig

Ophion merdarius Gravenhorst, 1829: 698  ; lectotype Ƌ, OUMNH, examined.

Ophion tournieri Vollenhoven, 1879: 61  , pl. 39; syn. nov.

Henicospilus rossicus Kokujev, 1907: 170  ; lectotype Ƌ, ZIN, photos examined; syn. nov.

Enicospilus contributus Shestakov, 1926: 256  ; syn. nov.

Enicospilus repentinus  – misidentification ( Gauld 1973).


As described in the “Taxonomy of British Enicospilus  ” section above, the lectotype male of Ophion merdarius  is a specimen of the species usually called E. tournieri  . The (probably non-British) female paralectotype is a specimen of Enicospilus adustus  (i.e., the usual interpretation of the name), so the choice of lectotype was unfortunate. We have not examined type material of Ophion tournieri  or Enicospilus contributus  as these types cannot be located; instead we have followed the synonymies (under tournieri  ) of Aubert (1962, 1964) and Viktorov (1957). The type of E. contributus  should be in ZIN but could not be located (A. Khalaim, pers. comm.). The whereabouts of the type male of O. tournieri  is a mystery; Townes et al. (1965) report the type depository as the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris, but it cannot be found there (A. Touret-Alby, pers. comm.) and it seems unlikely when most of the Vollenhoven’s types were deposited in Dutch collections. There is also no trace of a type in Naturalis, Leiden (F. Bakker, pers. comm.), which includes the former Amsterdam collections. The type locality of Switzerland makes it likely that O. tournieri  is a synonym of E. merdarius  rather than E. cruciator  , described from Turkmenistan and apparently more of a species of hot, dry climates (judging by published records and the collections of BMNH).

Restricted to a few coastal sites in England and Scotland. Only reared from Agrotis ripae (Hübner, 1823)  ( Noctuidae  ) (7 rearings), which inhabits the strandlines of sandy beaches and is very localised. The apparent host specificity of E. merdarius  may be a result of the restricted noctuid fauna in its habitat. Gauld (1973) recorded E. repentinus  as a British species but, based on his description of the species as being coastal, and the lack of true E. repentinus  in the BMNH collections until recently, it seems he was describing E. merdarius  ; in fact, Sperring (1952) had already published on E. tournieri  as a British species, with a host record (specimens in BMNH and BENHS).

Material examined

ENGLAND: 1 ♀, Dawlish Warren ( VC 3), 14 Aug. 1977 (A.A. Allen) ( NMS); 1 Ƌ, Winterton ( VC 27), ex Agrotis ripae  coll. as larva 7 Sep. 1988, em. spring 1989 (J.M. Chalmers-Hunt) ( NMS); 1 ♀, 1 Ƌ, Hayling Island ( VC 11), ex A. ripae  coll. as larvae, em.[dates presumed to be emergence dates] 28 Jul., 17 Aug. 1951 (A.H. Sperring); 1 unsexed ( VC 11), ex A. ripae  coll. as larva, Aug. 1931 (A.H. Sperring); 1 Ƌ, East/West Wittering ( VC 13), ex A. ripae  coll. as larva 4 Aug. 1932 (A.J. Wightman); 1 ♀, Eastbourne ( VC 14), Aug. 1900 (C.G. Nurse); 1 ♀, Clacton ( VC 19), Aug. 1926 (Harwood); 1 Ƌ, Freshwater Bay [there are Freshwater Bays in Dorset and on the Isle of Wight], <1904 ( T.E. Marshall) (all BMNH); 1 Ƌ, Hayling Island ( VC 11), ex A. ripae  coll. as larva, em.[?] 5 Aug. 1951 (A.H. Sperring) ( BENHS).

SCOTLAND: 1 Ƌ, St Cyrus NNR ( VC 91), ex A. ripae em. Jul. 1993  (A.J. Halstead) ( NMS).

Additional material in NMS

BULGARIA: 6 ♀♀, 1 Ƌ, Aksakovo (C.W. Plant) ( NMS).

The lectotype Ƌ was supposedly collected in Netley, Shropshire ( Fitton 1984), but this locality has been ascribed to most of the British material sent by F.W. Hope to J.L.C. Gravenhorst and seems very unlikely to be the actual collection locality for this sand dune inhabitant: entomologists of that period seemed often to name their home town, presumably to identify specimens as theirs, on what might otherwise be taken as data labels (which were, to say the least, unfashionable at the time).


Most similar in the British fauna to E. repentinus  but larger (52–58 flagellar segments, n = 10, modal value 52) and with distinct differences in fore wing sclerites and venation; also the propodeum has rather different sculpture, with the rugosity more raised and thus making it less shiny than in E. repentinus  . Unlike in E. repentinus  , there are some rather vaguely defined pale yellow patches on the mesosoma ( Fig. 13AView Fig). The non-British Enicospilus cruciator  is similar and the two species may well be confused in collections. Judging by Viktorov’s (1957) key and photographs of a female and male of the type series, E. cruciator  differs from E. merdarius  in the longer, less narrowed temples (in dorsal view of the head) and the larger ocellar-ocular gap.


National Museum of Scotland - Natural Sciences


Tavera, Department of Geology and Geophysics














Enicospilus merdarius ( Gravenhorst, 1829 )

Broad, Gavin R. & Shaw, Mark R. 2016

Enicospilus contributus

Shestakov A. 1926: 256

Henicospilus rossicus

Kokujev N. R. 1907: 170

Ophion tournieri

Vollenhoven S. C. S. van 1879: 61

Ophion merdarius

Gravenhorst J. L. C. 1829: 698