Cymothales illustris

View the above photo record (by Zenobia van Dyk) in LacewingMAP here.

Cymothales illustris

(Navás, 1913)


Size: Small-Medium sized (Wingspan around 56mm)

Delicate and beautiful antlions with very long, slender legs. The wings are iridescent with intricate brown markings. The hind wings end in elegant pointed tips.

Cymothales illustris – Near Carnarvon, Northern Cape
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Cymothales illustris – Near Pofadder, Northern Cape
Photo by Vaughan Jessnitz

Larvae: The larvae of Cymothales illustris are unknown.


Cymothales illustris inhabits arid regions. It is found in karroid scrublands as well as arid kalahari woodland and other dry woodland types.

Habitat – Near Vosburg, Northern Cape
Photo by Ryan Tippett


It normally rests well camouflaged among grass or other vegetation. Adults are readily attracted to lights and are recorded from October to May.

They are known to prey on various flying insects including other antlions.

The life history of the larval stage is unknown, but other species of Cymothales live in detritus in tree holes or on rock ledges. This species is likely to do the same.

Cymothales illustris consuming Creoleon sp. – Near Carnarvon, Northern Cape
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Status and Distribution

Cymothales illustris is fairly common in the drier western parts of Southern Africa, unlike others in the genus that occur in the northern and eastern regions. It is also found in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Distribution of Cymothales illustris. Taken from the LacewingMAP database, October 2022.


Order: Neuroptera Family: Myrmeleontidae  Subfamily: Dendroleontinae Tribe: Dendroleontini Genus: Cymothales  Species: illustris

Cymothales illustris – Near Carnarvon, Northern Cape
Photo by Karis Daniel

Further Resources

Virtual Museum (LacewingMAP > Search VM > By Scientific or Common Name)


The use of photographs by Karis Daniel, Vaughan Jessnitz and Zenobia van Dyk is acknowledged. This species text has benefited enormously from comments made by Mervyn Mansell on records he has identified in LacewingMAP. We acknowledge his important contribution.

Recommended citation format for this species text:

Tippett RM 2022. Cymothales illustris. Biodiversity and Development Institute, Cape Town.
Available online at

Ryan Tippett
Ryan Tippett
Ryan is an enthusiastic contributor to Citizen Science and has added many important and interesting records of fauna and flora. He has been a member of the Virtual Museum since 2014 and has currently submitted over 12,000 records. He is on the expert identification panel for the OdonataMAP project. Ryan is a well-qualified and experienced Field Guide, and Guide Training Instructor. He has spent the last 18 years in the guiding and tourism industries. Ryan loves imparting his passion and knowledge onto others, and it is this that drew him into guide training in particular. Something that he finds incredibly rewarding is seeing how people he's had the privilege of teaching have developed and gone on to greater things. His interests are diverse and include Dragonflies, Birding, Arachnids, Amphibians, wild flowers and succulents, free diving and experiencing big game on foot. With this range of interests, there is always likely be something special just around the corner!