Enicospilus Stephens, 1835,

Broad, Gavin R. & Shaw, Mark R., 2016, The British species of Enicospilus (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae: Ophioninae), European Journal of Taxonomy 187, pp. 1-31: 4

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Enicospilus Stephens, 1835


Genus Enicospilus Stephens, 1835 

Taxonomy of British Enicospilus 

There have been no identification keys to British Enicospilus  since Gauld’s (1973) key and update ( Gauld 1974). Unfortunately, these works contained significant misidentifications and lumped some species together. This is not surprising, as Gauld had access to rather small sample sizes and relied heavily on the number and shape of fore wing sclerites, which are of great use in Enicospilus  taxonomy but are, unfortunately, almost identical in five of the British species. There has never been a thorough revision of European Enicospilus  species, which is reflected in some frequent misunderstandings regarding species names and limits, although Viktorov’s (1957) key is very useful. In Britain, Enicospilus  can be divided into three species-groups, based on the sclerites in the fore wing discosubmarginal cell: E. inflexus  and E. undulatus  entirely lack sclerites (and have been referred to the genus Allocamptus Förster, 1869  by some authors); E. merdarius  (= Ophion tournieri Vollenhoven, 1879  ) and E. repentinus  have a welldefined proximal sclerite, with the central sclerite either absent or transparent; and the remaining five species (the ramidulus  species-group) have both the proximal and central sclerites pigmented. There has been confusion in each of these species-groups, although it is within the ramidulus  complex that species are most morphogically similar and hence have been persistently confused.

Gauld (1974) separated the very similar E. inflexus ( Ratzeburg, 1844)  and E. undulatus ( Gravenhorst, 1829)  , that he had previously ( Gauld 1973) confounded under the name E. undulatus  ; and Viktorov (1957) had already separated E. repentinus  and E. tournieri  (but see below), which Gauld (1973) had confused by identifying British specimens of E. merdarius  (= tournieri  ) as E. repentinus  , whereas the true E. repentinus  had not been found in Britain at that time.

Most authors have recognised E. merdarius  auctt. (but see below) as a separate species from E. ramidulus ( Linnaeus, 1758)  . Although Gauld (1973) stated that there are specimens intermediate between E. merdarius  auctt. and E. ramidulus  , and treated them as synonymous, we have seen no such specimens, and Gauld & Mitchell (1981) subsequently recognised the two as separate species. Differences in opinion regarding the status of E. merdarius  auctt. and E. ramidulus  have arisen because, although E. ramidulus  has a distinctive identifying feature in the black-tipped metasoma, E. merdarius  auctt. has no distinctive features, which we now know is because it is in fact a complex of similar species. Aubert (1966) had already separated off E. cerebrator Aubert, 1966  , a species subsequently recognised in several European countries but never sought in Britain. We have found E. cerebrator  to be widespread in Britain and also discovered a third species in this complex, which had no name, described here as E. myricae  sp. nov. The identity of E. merdarius  has been ignored since Fitton (1984) designated a lectotype; both before and after Fitton’s (1984) lectotype designation, the name E. merdarius  has frequently been applied to any Palaearctic Enicospilus  with two discrete fore wing sclerites and lacking either a dark tip to the metasoma or dark patches on the mesosoma (i.e., excluding E. ramidulus  and E. combustus ( Gravenhorst, 1829))  . Unfortunately, the lectotype of Ophion merdarius Gravenhorst, 1829  is the species that has generally been called E. tournieri  , with the result that literature citations for E. merdarius  do not refer to the species properly called E. merdarius  (quite apart from the many misidentifications). Remarkably, for such a widespread species, there is only one potential synonym of E. merdarius  auctt. (i.e., the larger species in the complex that includes E. cerebrator  and E. myricae  sp. nov.), namely Ophion adustus Haller, 1885  , synonymised under E. merdarius  by Horstmann (1997) on the basis of the brief original description, which could equally refer to E. cerebrator  or E. myricae  sp. nov. The type specimen(s) of O. adustus  cannot be found so, to stabilise usage of the name, we designate a neotype for O. adustus  , meaning that the widespread, large species, usually referred to as Enicospilus merdarius  , should be called Enicospilus adustus  . Allowing for his misconception of E. merdarius  , this is in line with the synonymy proposed by Horstmann (1997).