The discovery after 94 years of the elusive female of a myrmecolacid (Strepsiptera), and the cryptic species of Caenocholax fenyesi Pierce sensu lato. Academic Article uri icon


  • Due to its extreme sexual dimorphism and disparate hosts, no female myrmecolacid has been matched to its conspecific male to date. Here, for the first time to our knowledge, a morphological description is given of the matched female and male myrmecolacid, Caenocholax fenyesi waloffi ssp. nov. from Veracruz, Mexico: the female parasitic in a cricket and the male parasitic in an ant. For examined segments of DNA, the male and female are identical. Male C. fenyesi Pierce sensu lato was described 94 years ago from Veracruz. The male from Texas USA, which, for the same DNA segments, shows 15% divergence from the morphologically identical male from Veracruz, is given subspecies status, and is named Caenocholax fenyesi texensis ssp. nov. The discovery of the female finally enables many interesting studies to be pursued, such as speciation in morphologically cryptic taxa, the sexes of which parasitize disparate hosts. Caenocholax fenyesi sensu lato may also be evaluated for biocontrol of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, which is a pest in the USA and Australia.

published proceedings

  • Proc Biol Sci

altmetric score

  • 8.376

author list (cited authors)

  • Kathirithamby, J., & Johnston, J. S.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Kathirithamby, Jeyaraney||Johnston, J Spencer

publication date

  • February 2004