Multi-gene phylogeny and divergence estimations for Evaniidae (Hymenoptera) – our latest open access publication


Sharanowski BJ, Peixoto L, Dal Molin A, Deans AR. 2019. Multi-gene phylogeny and divergence estimations for Evaniidae (Hymenoptera) PeerJ 7:e6689 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.6689

Abstract.—Ensign wasps (Hymenoptera: Evaniidae) develop as predators of cockroach eggs (Blattodea), have a wide distribution and exhibit numerous interesting biological phenomena. The taxonomy of this lineage has been the subject of several recent, intensive efforts, but the lineage lacked a robust phylogeny. In this paper we present a new phylogeny, based on increased taxonomic sampling and data from six molecular markers (mitochondrial 16S and COI, and nuclear markers 28S, RPS23, CAD, and AM2), the latter used for the first time in phylogenetic reconstruction. Our intent is to provide a robust phylogeny that will stabilize and facilitate revision of the higher-level classification. We also show the continued utility of molecular motifs, especially the presence of an intron in the RPS23 fragments of certain taxa, to diagnose evaniid clades and assist with taxonomic classification. Furthermore, we estimate divergence times among evaniid lineages for the first time, using multiple fossil calibrations. Evaniidae radiated primarily in the Early Cretaceous (134.1–141.1 Mya), with and most extant genera diverging near the K-T boundary. The estimated phylogeny reveals a more robust topology than previous efforts, with the recovery of more monophyletic taxa and better higher-level resolution. The results facilitate a change in ensign wasp taxonomy, with Parevania, and Papatuka, syn. nov. becoming junior synonyms of Zeuxevania, and Acanthinevania, syn. nov. being designated as junior synonym of Szepligetella. We transfer 30 species to Zeuxevania, either reestablishing past combinations or as new combinations. We also transfer 20 species from Acanthinevania to Szepligetella as new combinations.

A photographic catalog of Ceraphronoidea types at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris – our latest open access publication

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Trietsch C, Mikó I, Deans AR (2019). A photographic catalog of Ceraphronoidea types at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris (MNHN), with comments on unpublished notes from Paul Dessart. European Journal of Taxonomy 0(502). DOI: 0.5852/ejt.2019.502

Abstract.—The majority of Ceraphronoidea (Insecta: Hymenoptera) species were described in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with most of these early descriptions relying on text alone. Few type specimens have been illustrated and even fewer have been photographed, posing a challenge to taxonomists working on the group today. Here, we attempt to remove the barriers obstructing Ceraphronoidea research by creating a photographic catalog of the type specimens present at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN) in Paris, France. We discuss the history of the ceraphronoid specimens present in the collection and provide comments on unpublished species notes from former Ceraphronoidea taxonomist Paul Dessart. We synonymize Ceraphron myrmecophilus Kieffer, 1913 syn. nov. with Aphanogmus abdominalis (Thomson, 1858) (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae) based on the male genitalia morphology, body shape and presence of foveae on the median length of the mesoscutellum. We also report the discovery of the missing male holotype of Ceraphron testaceus (Risbec, 1953) (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae) and several potential types of Aphangomus aphidi (Risbec, 1955) (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae).

Revision of Trassedia (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae), an evolutionary relict with an unusual distribution – our latest publication

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Mikó I, Trietsch C, van de Kamp T, Masner L, Ulmer JM, Yoder MJ, Zuber M, Sandall EL, Baumbach T, Deans AR (2018) Revision of Trassedia (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae), an evolutionary relict with an unusual distribution. Insect Systematics and Diversity 2(6): 4 DOI: 10.1093/isd/ixy015

Abstract.—Ceraphronoidea is composed of two, seemingly well-defined families, Ceraphronidae and Megaspilidae. The position of Trassedia Cancemi 1996 within the superfamily is unclear, as this genus shares characteristics of both families. For instance, Trassedia possess both the pterostigma form characteristic of Megaspilidae, and the Waterston’s evaporatorium, a structure unique to Ceraphronidae. Trassedia was known only from a single specimen of T. luapi Cancemi 1996 from Madagascar. We describe nine new species: Trassedia australiensis Mikó and Masner sp. nov. (Australia), Trassedia yanegai Mikó and Trietsch sp. nov. (Thailand), Trassedia brasiliensis Masner and Mikó sp. nov. (Brazil), Trassedia nigra Masner and Mikó sp. nov. (Brazil), Trassedia nigrorufus Mikó and Masner sp. nov. (Panama), Trassedia guianensis Mikó and Masner sp. nov. (French Guiana), Trassedia angustioculus Mikó and Masner sp. nov. (French Guiana), and Trassedia pilosus Masner and Mikó sp. nov. (Costa Rica), and Trassedia gauldi Mikó and Masner sp. nov. (Costa Rica and Brazil). To illuminate the morphological concepts presented here, we provide SR-µCT and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM)-based 3D reconstructions. The Waterston’s organ is sexually dimorphic in Trassedia; it is unpaired in males and paired in females. We describe modifications of the metasoma apex that align with the enlarged hind tarsi, a leg phenotype peculiar to Trassedia and the unique subdivision of the first valvifer. We report the presence of the occipital depression in Trassedia and describe how this structure is involved in a secondary articulation between the head and the mesosoma. We discuss the possible function and phylogenetic relevance of the pterostigma in Ceraphronoidea. Based on its Southern Hemisphere distribution we hypothesize that Trassedia’s presence predates the break-up of Gondwana.

The Insect Collectors’ Code – our latest publication


A vehicle outfitted for fieldwork, primarily to collect Odonata, from a 1959 sampling trip by George H. and Alice F. Beatty. Photo probably by the Beattys

Check out our latest publication, in American Entomologist:

Trietsch C, Deans AR (2018) The Insect Collectors’ Code. American Entomologist 64(3): 156–158 DOI: 10.1093/ae/tmy035

Can’t access the article? See a preprint here: (123KB PDF)

A new megaspilid wasp from Eocene Baltic amber – our latest open access publication


Mikó I, van de Kamp T, Trietsch C, Ulmer JM, Zuber M, Baumbach T, Deans AR. (2018A new megaspilid wasp from Eocene Baltic amber (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronoidea), with notes on two non-ceraphronoid families: Radiophronidae and StigmaphronidaePeerJ 6:e5174

Abstract.—Ceraphronoids are some of the most commonly collected hymenopterans, yet they remain rare in the fossil record. Conostigmus talamasi Mikó and Trietsch, sp. nov. from Baltic amber represents an intermediate form between the type genus, Megaspilus, and one of the most species-rich megaspilid genera, Conostigmus. We describe the new species using 3D data collected with synchrotron-based micro-CT equipment. This non-invasive technique allows for quick data collection in unusually high resolution, revealing morphological traits that are otherwise obscured by the amber. In describing this new species, we revise the diagnostic characters for Ceraphronoidea and discuss possible reasons why minute wasps with a pterostigma are often misidentified as ceraphronoids. Based on the lack of ceraphronoid characteristics, we remove Dendrocerus dubitatus Brues, 1937, Stigmaphronidae, and Radiophronidae from Ceraphronoidea and consider them as incertae sedis. We also provide some guidance for their future classification.

Ceraphron krogmanni (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae), a new species from Lower Saxony – our latest open access publication

the male genitalia of this wasp species are large and unusual

Ulmer JM, Miko I, Deans AR (2018) Ceraphron krogmanni (Hymenoptera: Ceraphronidae), a new species from Lower Saxony with unusual male genitalia. Biodiversity Data Journal 6: e24173. DOI: 10.3897/BDJ.6.e24173


Male genitalia phenotypes of Ceraphron (Jurine, 1807) are informative for species delimitation, but due to their minute size, these characters have not been used extensively. Recent developments in visualisation techniques, e.g. confocal laser scanning microscopy and high resolution bright field imaging, allow for more thorough examination of these minute anatomical structures and the development of a robust, male genitalia-based taxonomic system. We also establish a character set, a template, that will facilitate future revisions of these wasps.

New information

Ceraphron krogmanni sp. nov. is described with outsized male genitalia and multiple diagnostic traits that are unique amongst Ceraphron species.