Cymothales exilis

View the above photo record (by Bart Wursten) in LacewingMAP here.

Cymothales exilis

Mansell, 1987


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

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

Larvae: The larvae of Cymothales exilis are unknown.

Cymothales exilis – Sofala, Mozambique
Photo by Bart Wursten


Cymothales exilis inhabits hot, humid woodlands in the tropics and subtropics.


Like others in the genus Cymothales exilis likely rests among grass or other vegetation where it is well camouflaged. Adults are readily attracted to lights and are recorded from October to May.

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 probably does the same.

Status and Distribution

Cymothales exilis is fairly widespread in southern, central and eastern Africa, but is very rare. It is known from South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya and Malawi.

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


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

Further Resources

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


The use of photographs by Bart Wursten 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 exilis. 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!