Ascalaphus festivus

View the above photo record (by Richard Johnstone) in LacewingMAP here.

Ascalaphidae (Owlflies)

Ascalaphus festivus

 (Rambur, 1842)

Identification

Size: Medium sized (Wingspan 60mm)

Adults can be recognised by the striking chequered pattern of black/brown yellow and white along the abdomen.

The body is predominantly yellow with a few dark brown, parallel lines on the thorax. The wings are clear with a conspicuous amber-coloured leading edge.

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

The larvae closely resemble those of antlions (Myrmeleontidae).

Ascalaphus festivus – False Bay, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett
Ascalaphus festivus – False Bay, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Habitat

Ascalaphus festivus inhabits grasslands, especially in 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.

They hawk smaller flying insects at dusk.

Eggs are laid in batches on leaves and stems, and the larvae are sedentary ambush-predators.

Ascalaphus festivus – Mooketsi, Limpopo
Photo by Bernardine Altenroxel

Status and Distribution

Ascalaphus festivus is Common and widespread throughout the Afrotropical Region – and beyond. In South Africa it is absent only from the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.

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

Taxonomy:

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

Further Resources

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

Acknowledgements:

The use of photographs by Alan Manson, Bernardine Altenroxel and 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 festivus. Biodiversity and Development Institute, Cape Town.
Available online at http://thebdi.org/2023/01/15/ascalaphus-festivus/

Ascalaphus festivus – Mkomazi River, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Alan Manson
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!