Sphex ahasverus Kohl, 1890

Dörfel, Thorleif H. & Ohl, Michael, 2022, The wasp genus Sphex in Sub-Saharan Africa (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae), European Journal of Taxonomy 796 (1), pp. 1-170 : 83-85

publication ID

https://doi.org/ 10.5852/ejt.2022.796.1665

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scientific name

Sphex ahasverus Kohl, 1890


Sphex ahasverus Kohl, 1890

Figs 75–76, 77 View Figs 72–78. 72 (blue)

Sphex ahasverus Kohl, 1890: 397 , ♀.

Sphex observabilis R. Turner, 1918: 360 , ♀. Syn. nov.

Differential diagnosis

Males and females of this species are unmistakable within their species group, as they have uniformly golden vestiture covering the pleurae and propodeum, which completely obscures the propodeal sculpture.

Material examined

Holotype or syntype AFRICA • ♀; “South Australia”, but actually Africa ; NHMW .

Other material

CAMEROON – Southwest Region • 1 ♀; “Johann-Albrechts-Höhe” [ Government Station Johann Albrecht Mountain ]; [4°40ʹ N, 9°24ʹ E]; 14 May 1896; L. Conradt leg.; ZMB GoogleMaps 1 ♀; Barombi Station ; [4°40ʹ N, 9°24ʹ E]; P. Preuss leg.; ZMB GoogleMaps .

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO • 1 ♀; “ Kasaï ”; May 1922; Van Risseghem leg.; MRAC 1 ♀; “ Sankuru ”; 1910; Abrassart leg.; MRAC. – Lomami • 1 ♂; Tshofa ; [5°14ʹ S, 25°15ʹ E] GoogleMaps ; Dec. 1934; Gillardin leg.; MRAC. – Province of Équateur • 1 ♂; Eala ; [0°02ʹ30ʺ N, 18°20ʹ06ʺ E]; Jan. 1936; J. Ghesquière leg.; MRAC GoogleMaps 1 ♂; same collection data as for preceding but GoogleMaps Aug. 1936; MRAC. – South Kivu • 1 ♀; Kavumu to Kabunga, km 82 (Mingazi); [2°01ʹ S, 28°31ʹ E]; 1951; H. Bomans leg.; MRAC. – GoogleMaps Tshuapa • 2 ♀♀; Moma ; [1°05ʹ S, 23°23ʹ E]; 1933; M. Molin leg.; MRAC GoogleMaps 1 ♀; same locality as for preceding; Jun. 1925; J. Ghesquière leg.; MRAC GoogleMaps .

REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO – Plateaux Department • 1 ♀; Abala ; [2°26ʹ59ʺ S, 14°42ʹ59ʺ E]; 13 Sep. 1951; MNHN GoogleMaps .

UGANDA – Central Region • 1 ♀, holotype or syntype of Sphex observabilis R. Turner, 1918 ; Tero Forest ; [0°50ʹ S, 31°40ʹ E]; 26–30 Sep. 1911; S.A. Neave leg.; BMNH GoogleMaps . – Western Region • 1 ♂; Kabarole Kibale Forest National Park, Kanyawara (MUBFS) ; 0°33ʹ N, 30°21ʹ E; 23 Aug. 1997; C. Häuser leg.; THD-011-ZMB ; GenBank CO1 gene: MW538553 View Materials ; GenBank LWR gene: MW582291 View Materials ; ZMB GoogleMaps 1 ♂; same collection data as for preceding; ZMB GoogleMaps .



SIZE. 29.4–32.8 mm.

VESTITURE AND STRUCTURE.A redescription based on the holotype has already been published ( Dörfel & Ohl 2015). Some additional important characters of the species are treated here. Erect propodeal setae oriented posteriorly. Free clypeal margin slightly stepped medially, clypeus with slight indentation in lower center, without carina. 2 nd recurrent vein joins markedly proximal from interstitium between submarginal cells II and III. Foretarsomere I 2.6–2.9 × length of antepenultimate spine. Petiole length 1.4–1.6× its medial width.


SIZE. 27.0– 29.1 mm.

COLOR. Black except for ferruginous stripe in center of mandible. Forewing slightly fuscous, hindwing mostly hyaline.

VESTITURE. Appressed setae on clypeus, paraocular area, collar and propodeal enclosure silverygolden, on scutum black. Erect setae on clypeus and paraocular area black intermixed with silvery ones, on scutum black, on collar and propodeal enclosure silvery-golden. Erect propodeal setae oriented posteriorly. Free clypeal margin glabrous. Scutellum densely and coarsely pubescent. Metasomal sterna II–V with decreasingly dense, VI–VII with increasingly dense fringes of black setae.

STRUCTURE. Free clypeal margin simple. Scutellum convex. Metanotum slightly raised, not bituberculate. 2 nd recurrent vein joins markedly proximal from interstitium between submarginal cells II and III. Propodeal enclosure without any notable ridges. Posterior margin of metasomal tergum VII very gently notched. Posterior margin of metasomal sternum VII simple, of metasomal sternum VIII slightly concavely emarginate. Penis valvae fused, inner margin flattened and conspicuously raised, dorsally broadened. Petiole length 1.35–1.45 × its medial width. Flagellomeres IV–VII with broad placoids covering their entire length.




Central Africa.


Members of Sphex observabilis are indistinguishable from the type of S. ahasverus , allegedly from South Australia, which leads us to the conclusion that both species are synonymous. However, we do not believe that there are morphologically identical populations of the species in both Uganda and South Australia. The specimens Kohl (1890) described as S. ahasverus were apparently part of a batch which the Vienna Natural History Museum had received in 1804 from Leopold von Fichtel. A locality error is therefore conceivable, since a large part of the material came from Africa ( Rogenhofer 1889). Even though R. Turner treated S. ahasverus in his key to the Australian Sphecini (1910) and described S. observabilis in 1918, he likely failed to notice the connection between the two. Thus, observabilis should become an invalid name, while ahasverus is to be used for the species even though it is most likely restricted to Africa in its geographical distribution.


Austria, Wien, Naturhistorisches Museum Wien


Belgium, Tervuren, Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale


Naturhistorisches Museum, Wien


Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Zoological Collections)


Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale














Sphex ahasverus Kohl, 1890

Dörfel, Thorleif H. & Ohl, Michael 2022

Sphex observabilis R. Turner, 1918: 360

Turner R. E. 1918: 360

Sphex ahasverus

Kohl F. F. 1890: 397
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