Cueta mysteriosa

View the above photo record (by Alan Manson) in LacewingMAP here.

Cueta mysteriosa

(Gerstaecker, 1893)


Size: Small (Wingspan around 58mm)

Flesh-coloured antlions with dark brown patterning and stripes on the abdomen and thorax. The wings are clear with numerous, small dark brown speckles.

There are several other similar looking species in the genus.

Larvae: The larvae are pinkish and largely indistinguishable from those of other Cueta species.

Cueta mysteriosa – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Cueta mysteriosa – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Inhabits woodland, coastal forest, sand forest and woodlands, mainly on sandy soils, in the humid coastal region of north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal.

Dry sand forest habitat – Mkhuze Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Adults are nocturnal and they are regularly attracted to lights. They are active during Summer and have been recorded from September to April.

The larvae are typical pit-builders and often construct their traps in the open.

Cueta mysteriosa San Sebastian Nature Reserve, Mozambique
Photo by Rick Nuttall

Status and Distribution

In South Africa Cueta mysteriosa is largely confined to the coastal areas of KZN where it is fairly common. It extends further north through Mozambique (including Inhaca island) to Kenya.

Distribution of Cueta mysteriosa. Taken from the LacewingMAP database, November 2022.


Order: Neuroptera Family: Myrmeleontidae Subfamily: Myrmeleontinae Tribe: Nesoleontini Genus: Cueta Species: mysteriosa

Cueta mysteriosa – 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 Rick Nuttall 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. Cueta mysteriosa. 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!