Melambrotus papio

View the above photo record (by Mark Galpin) in LacewingMAP here.

Ascalaphidae (Owlflies)

Melambrotus papio

 Tjeder, 1992


Size: Medium sized (Wingspan 60mm)

Owlflies in the genus Melambrotus are commonly known as Black-line Owlflies, due to the prominent black stripe along the leading edge of the wings. All species in the genus are closely similar and are separated on wing characteristics. Melambrotus papio has Dark lines on the forewing ending at the pterostigma, followed by a linear spot that does not reach the wing margin.

The body is mostly grey and the thorax is very hairy. There are two round, velvety black spots on top of the thorax.

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

The larvae are unknown.

Melambrotus papio – Bushmanskloof, Western Cape
Photo by Zenobia van Dyk


Mostly recorded from fairly arid, shrubby habitats.


Adults emerge during Summer from October to April.

The winged adults are active at dusk and are often attracted to light. Virtually nothing is known of its biology and the larvae of this species are unknown.

Melambrotus papio – Bushmanskloof, Western Cape
Photo by Zenobia van Dyk

Status and Distribution

Melambrotus papio seems to be scarce but is fairly widespread in South Africa. Its distribution is mainly centred in the Western Cape, but is also recorded from the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Mpumalanga. It appears to be endemic to South Africa.

Distribution of Melambrotus papio. Taken from the LacewingMAP database, February 2023.


Order: Neuroptera Family: Ascalaphidae Subfamily: Ascalaphinae Tribe: Haplogleniini Genus: Melambrotus Species: papio

Further Resources

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


The use of photographs by Andre Kok, Mark Galpin and Zenobia van Dyk 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 2023. Melambrotus papio. Biodiversity and Development Institute, Cape Town.
Available online at

Melambrotus papio – Karoo National Park, Western Cape
Photo by Andre Kok
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!