Macroleon quinquemaculatus

View the above photo record (by Gary Brown) in LacewingMAP here.

Macroleon quinquemaculatus 

(Hagen, 1853)


Size: Medium sized (Wingspan around 60mm)

These antlions have mostly brown coloured bodies and show conspicuous dark bands across the abdomen. The wings are clear with diagnostic white pterostigmas.

Larvae: The larvae are pale coloured and resemble those of other pit-building species.

Macroleon quinquemaculatus – Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Peter Vos


Macroleon quinquemaculatus inhabits savanna woodland and forest regions. Adults are can be found among tall grass in the dappled light beneath trees.

Habitat – Ndumo Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


The adults are nocturnal and spend the day resting among tall grass or other vegetation and may often be found on the underside of branches. Macroleon quinquemaculatus is frequently attracted to light. 

It is the largest pit building species in the Afrotropics and the pits are always in very well sheltered situations, especially under buildings. Adults sometimes form aggregations, aligning themselves along branches.

In South Africa adults are on the wing from October to April.

Macroleon quinquemaculatus – Malawi
Photo by Gary Brown
Macroleon quinquemaculatus – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Status and Distribution

This species is common and quite widespread in South Africa. Ranges from the Western Cape northwards through KwaZulu-Natal and up to Limpopo. It is absent from the drier western areas. Macroleon quinquemaculatus extends far into Africa, across all countries as far north as Liberia and Ethiopia. It is also found on Madagascar.

Distribution of Macroleon quinquemaculatus. Taken from the LacewingMAP database, October 2022.


Order: Neuroptera Family: Myrmeleontidae Subfamily: Myrmeleontinae Tribe: Myrmeleontini Genus: Macroleon Species: quinquemaculatus

Macroleon quinquemaculatus – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Further Resources

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


The use of photographs by Gary Brown and Peter Vos 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. Macroleon quinquemaculatus. Biodiversity and Development Institute, Cape Town.
Available online at

Macroleon quinquemaculatus – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
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!