Ascalaphus bilineatus

View the above photo record (by Ryan Tippett) in LacewingMAP here.

Ascalaphidae (Owlflies)

Ascalaphus bilineatus

 (Kolbe, 1897)

Identification

Size: Medium sized (Wingspan 60mm)

Adults can be recognised by the pair of broad, parallel, dark brown lines on the upper thorax – hence the name “bilineatus”.

The body is predominantly orange-yellow with a checquered pattern of brown yellow and white along the abdomen. The wings are clear with a conspicuous amber-coloured leading edge.

As with other owlflies, they possess long, clubbed antennae.

Ascalaphus bilineatus – Near Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Richard Johnstone
Ascalaphus bilineatus – Lake Mzingazi Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Richard Johnstone

Habitat

Ascalaphus bilineatus inhabits damp places such as moist or flooded grassland as well as marshes, floodplains and other wetlands fringes.

Habitat – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Behaviour

Adults are recorded during Summer from October to April.

The winged adults are frequently flushed from long grass. They fly rapidly but will soon settle again on a grass stem in typical posture, wings pointing downwards and the abdomen held out at an angle to the grass stem.

Ascalaphus bilineatus – Lake Mposa Dam Wall, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Richard Johnstone

Eggs are laid in batches on blades of grass (about 30-35 per batch).

The larvae are sit-and-wait ambush predators and seldom move position. They take about a year to progress from egg stage to adult.

Status and Distribution

Ascalaphus bilineatus is common and widespread in the northern parts of South Africa, including Mpumalanga, KZN, North-West and Limpopo. Its range extends northwards to Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya. It has also been recorded from eSwatini (formerly Swaziland).

Distribution of Ascalaphus bilineatus. Taken from the LacewingMAP database, January 2023.

Taxonomy:

Order: Neuroptera Family: Ascalaphidae Subfamily: Ascalaphinae Tribe: Ascalaphini Genus: Ascalaphus Species: bilineatus

Further Resources

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

Acknowledgements:

The use of photographs by Richard Johnstone 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. Ascalaphus bilineatus. Biodiversity and Development Institute, Cape Town.
Available online at http://thebdi.org/2023/01/12/ascalaphus-bilineatus/

Ascalaphus bilineatus – Lake Mzingazi Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Richard Johnstone
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!