The Nemestrinidae in Egypt and Saudi Arabia (Brachycera: Diptera)
Egyptian Journal of Biological Pest Control volume 32, Article number: 26 (2022)
The Nemestrinidae are a widespread group of moderate to large-sized rather stout flies. All known larvae of these flies are internal parasitoids of nymphs and adults of grasshoppers and larvae of scarabaeid beetles and have the potential to be used as biocontrol agents.
All known Egyptian and Saudi Arabian nemestrinid taxa are systematically catalogued in the present study. A total number of 13 species classified in only 2 genera, Nemestrinus (subfamily Nemestrininae) and Trichopsidea (subfamily Falleniinae), were investigated. Twelve of these species are represented in Egypt, out of which 5 species are represented in Saudi Arabia as well. Two of the treated species, Nemestrinus ater (Olivier) and N. rufipes (Olivier), are newly recorded herein from Saudi Arabia. Only one species, Trichopsidea costata (Loew), was recorded exclusively from Saudi Arabia. An updated classification, taxonomic data, world and local distributions with collection dates and coloured photographs of some species were provided. Hope that the results of this study will provide the basis for systematic studies and fauna analyses of future works on Nemestrinidae. It seems likely that further species will be discovered with more research involving a variety of collecting methods.
Thirteen nemestrinid species belonging to 2 genera and 2 subfamilies were represented in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Two of these species are newly recorded herein from Saudi Arabia.
The Nemestrinidae (tangle-veined flies) are a widespread family of moderate to large-sized rather stout and compact flies. This family is represented by about 300 species and 26 genera worldwide (Pape et al. 2011), including more than 80 species from the Palaearctic Region (Richter 1988) and more than 50 species from the Afrotropical Region (Barraclough 2017).
Nemestrinid adults are mostly fast fliers, often found hovering around flowers where they feed on nectar, making characteristic humming sound. They are important pollinators of numerous flowering plants (Barraclough 2017). These adults can be easily distinguished by their wings which are typically longer than body, with veins appearing tangled, with a composite diagonal vein commencing from vein R1 and traversing diagonally to outer wing margin, and with characteristic apical veins running parallel to the hind margin of the wing and terminating anterior to its apex (Marshall et al. 2017). All known larvae of these flies are internal parasitoids of nymphs and adults of grasshoppers and larvae of scarabaeid beetles (Richter 1997). This makes the nemestrinid flies have the potentiality to be used as biological control agents of locusts and grasshoppers (Barraclough 2017).
The family Nemestrinidae is divided into 5 subfamilies (Papavero and Bernardi 2009). Only 2 of these subfamilies, Falleniinae and Nemestrininae, are represented in Egypt and Saudi Arabia by 13 species in 2 genera, Nemestrinus and Trichopsidea as treated in the present study (Table 1). No previous studies on Nemestrinidae were carried out in Saudi Arabia; however, Steyskal and El-Bialy (1967) published a list of Egyptian Diptera including Nemestrinidae, and El-Hashash et al. (2021) studied one genus, Nemestrinus, taxonomically in Egypt. Moreover, some species were described from Egypt in some other miscellaneous studies as Olivier (1810), Wiedemann (1828), Macquart (1840) and Efflatoun (1925).
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are two neighbouring Arabian countries situated at the junction of the Afrotropical and Palaearctic biogeographic regions. The faunas in both countries are mainly Palaearctic, except for the south-eastern corner of Egypt (Gebel Elba) (El-Hawagry et al. 2018) and the south-western district of Saudi Arabia, south to the Tropic of Cancer (El-Hawagry et al. 2017), which are mainly Afrotropical.
The present study is one in a series of studies on different families of Diptera aiming to catalogue the entire order in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Previous studies concerning the Nemestrinid flies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in addition to material deposited in Egyptian and Saudi Arabian museum or collected by the authors, were the main sources for the present study. Different collecting methods were used, included sweeping nets, Malaise traps, pitfall traps and light traps; however, majority of specimens were collected by the sweeping nets and only two specimens of Trichopsidea costata were collected by pitfall trap and light trap, as one specimen by each.
The classification of Papavero and Bernardi (2009) is considered in the present study, in which the extant genera of Nemestrinidae are classified in 5 subfamilies: Atriadopinae, Cyclopsideinae, Falleniinae, Hirmoneurinae and Nemestrininae. The classification of species within genera follows Richter (1988).
Taxonomic information as type species, type localities and synonymies was mainly obtained from Richter (1988). However, world and local distributions, and collection dates of species were obtained from different relevant literature, in addition to local museums and/or collected specimens. These sources are listed in square brackets at the end of each section.
In the sections of localities and dates of collection, the 8 known Egyptian ecological zones (Coastal Strip (CS), Eastern Desert (ED), Fayoum, Gebel Elba (GE), Lower Nile Valley & Delta (LNVD), Sinai, Upper Nile Valley (UNV) and Western Desert (WD)) were adopted in the present study. However, there are no evident ecological zones in Saudi Arabia, so the administrative divisions (also known as regions or provinces) were used instead, namely, Al-Baha, Al-Jawf, Al-Madinah, Al-Qaseem, Asir, Eastern Province, Hail, Jazan, Makkah, Najran, Northern Frontier, Riyadh and Tabuk.
Localities within each Egyptian ecological zone or Saudi Arabian administrative region are alphabetically arranged and written after a colon following each zone or region and then followed, between parentheses, by the collection dates. Coordinates of nemestrinid localities in Egypt and Saudi Arabia are listed (Table 2).
Genus NEMESTRINUS Latreille, 1802
Nemestrina Latreille, 1809: 307. Misspelling of Nemestrinus.
Nemestrinus abdominalis Olivier (1810)
Nemestrina abdominalis Olivier, 1810: 94. Type locality: Egypt.
Nemestrina osiris Wiedemann, 1828: 561. Type locality: Egypt.
Nemestrina aegyptiacus Wiedemann, 1828: 249. Type locality: Egypt.
Nemestrina tripolitana Lichtwardt, 1907: 443. Type locality: Libya (Tripoli).
Nemestrina jullieni Efflatoun, 1925: 357. Type locality: Egypt (Wadi Hoff, east of Helouan; Wadi Um-Elek, branch of Wadi Hoff; Wadi Abu-Handal).
Local distribution and dates of collection: EGYPT: CS: El-Burg, Cleopatra (February to July); ED: Abu-Sueir, El-Quseir, Ismailia, Serapium, Wadi Abu-Handal, Wadi Dar El-Maskhara, Wadi Digla, Wadi Garawi, Wadi Hoff, Wadi Morrah, Wadi Rishrash, Wadi Silly, Wadi Um-Assad, Wadi Um-Elek, Wadi Zohleiga (February to October); Fayoym: locality and date unknown; LNVD: Abu-Rawash, Burgash, Cairo, Ezbet El-Nakhl, Helwan, Kafr Hakim, Kerdassa, Mansouriah (April to October); Sinai: Ein Moussa, Mitla (March to July); UNV: Assiout, Gerga (March and April); WD: Wadi El-Natroun (March). [Sources: Lichtwardt (1909), Efflatoun (1925), El-Hashash et al. (2021), museum material in EFC, ESEC and PPDD and collected material]. SAUDI ARABIA: Makkah Al-Mukarramah: Jeddah (date unknown); Riyadh: Uruq Bani Ma'arid (March). [Sources: Lichtwardt (1909) and collected material]
Material examined: EGYPT: 1 male, Wadi Um Mitla, 16.3.1999, sweeping net, El-Hawagry leg.; MSHC. 1 male, Helwan, 20.3.1934, Farag leg.; 1 male, Helwan, 23.4.1935, Farag leg.; 1 male, Kerdassa, 2.4.1924, R.M. leg.; 1 female, Wadi Garawi, 31.3.1930, Farag leg.; 1 female, Wadi Garawi, 25.3.1932, Farag leg.; 1 male, Wadi Hoff, 28.2.1927, Farag leg.; 1 female, Wadi Rishrash, 29.3.1935. H.C.E. & M.T. leg.; 1 female, Wadi Silly, Helwan, 19.3.1926, Farag leg.; 1 female, Wadi Um Elek, 21.3.1924, Efflatoun leg.; EFC. 1 female, Wadi Garawi, 25.III.1932, Farag leg.; EFC. SAUDI ARABIA: 1 female, Uruq Bani Ma'arid, 6.III.2021, sweeping net, Abdel-Dayem et al. leg.; KSMA.
Nemestrina ater Olivier, 1810: 94. Type locality: Egypt.
Nemestrina nigra Wiedemann, 1828: 560. Type locality: Egypt.
Local distribution and dates of collection: EGYPT: CS: Abu-Kir, Alexandria, Bacos, El-Burg, Dekheila, Mariout, Mersa Matrouh (February to October); ED: Cairo-Suez Road, Geneifa, Serapium, Suez, Wadi Garawi, Wadi Hoff, Wadi Silly (March to May); LNVD: Abu-Rawash, El-Gebel El-Asfar, Ezbet El-Nakhl, Kafr Hakim, Kerdassa, Mansouriah, Pyramids (January to October); Sinai: Wadi Abu-Gaifa (April); WD: Wadi El-Natroun (April). [Sources: Lichtwardt (1909), El-Hashash et al. (2021) and museum material in EFC, ESEC and PPDD]. SAUDI ARABIA: Tabouk: Tabouk (August). [Source: collected material]
Note: This species was recorded herein for the first time from Saudi Arabia.
Material examined: EGYPT: 1 female, Abu-Rawash, 24.2.1926, R.M. leg.; 1 female, Wadi Garawi, 22.3.1930, Farag leg.; 1 female, Wadi Garawi, 31.3.1930, Farag leg.; 1 male, Kafr Hakim, 20.3.1926, R.M. leg.; 1 male, Kerdassa, 23.2.1927, R.M. leg.; 1 male, Mansouriah, 13.2.1926, R.M. leg.; 2 males, Wadi Garawi, 31.3.1920, Farag. leg.; EFC. SAUDI ARABIA: 1 female, Tabouk University, 28.8.2012, sweeping net, Al-Sherif leg.; MSHC.
Nemestrinus caucasicus (Fischer, 1806)
Rhynchocephalus caucasicus Fischer, 1806: 220. Type locality: Caucasia.
Nemestrina analis Olivier, 1810: 94. Type locality: "ad maris Caspium Littora".
Rhynchocephalus adamsii Fischer, 1812: 188. Unjustified new name for R. caucasicus Fischer.
Nemestrina albofasciata Wiedemann, 1828: 251. Type locality: Unknown.
Nemestrina anthophorina Portschinsky, 1881: 136. Type locality: Turkey.
Distribution: PA: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Iran, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine. [Sources: Lichtwardt (1909), Sack (1933), Steyskal and El-Bialy (1967), Richter (1988)]
Local distribution and dates of collection: EGYPT: Unknown. [Sources: Steyskal and El-Bialy (1967)]
Nemestrinus exalbidus Lichtwardt (1907)
Nemestrina exalbida Lichtwardt, 1907: 441. Type locality: Israel or Palestine (Jerusalem).
Local distribution and dates of collection: EGYPT: ED: Ogret El-Sheikh, Wadi Dar El-Maskhara, Wadi Hoff, Wadi Rishrash, Wadi Zohleiga (March and April); GE: Shalateen (March); LNVD: Abu-Rawash, Helwan, Kafr Hakim, Kerdassa, Mansouriah, Shubra (April to October); Sinai: locality and date unknown. [Sources: Lichtwardt (1909), El-Hashash et al. (2021) and museum material in EFC, ESEC and PPDD]. ? SAUDI ARABIA:?. [Source: Sack (1933)]
Note: Sack (1933) recorded this species from the Arabian Peninsula [as “Arabien”], however, he did not specifically mention the country from which he recorded the species. So, this record in Saudi Arabia is doubtful, especially Richter (1988) did not catalogue the species as recorded from any Arabian country.
Material examined: EGYPT: 1 female, Abu-Rawash, 16.3.1927, R.M. leg.; 1 female, Ogret El-Sheikh, 31.3.1926, Efflatoun leg,; 1 male, Wadi Hoff, 24.3.1930, Farag, leg.; 7 males, 4 females, Wadi Rishrash, 29.3.1935, H.C.E. & M.T. leg.; EFC.
Nemestrinus fasciatus (Olivier, 1810)
Nemestrina fasciatus Olivier, 1810: 94. Type locality: Egypt.
Local distribution and dates of collection: EGYPT: CS: Burg El-Arab, Mariout, Max (April and June); ED: Abu-Sueir (May); LNVD: Mansouriah (June). [Sources: El-Hashash et al. (2021) and museum material in EFC, ESEC and PPDD]
Material examined: EGYPT: 1 female, Burg El-Arab, 6.5.1926, Tewfik leg.; EFC.
Nemestrinus fascifrons (Bigot, 1888)
Nemestrina fascifrons Bigot, 1888: 8. Type locality: Tunisia (Kerkennah Islands).
Distribution: PA: Egypt, Israel, Tunisia. [Source: Richter (1988)]
Local distribution and dates of collection: EGYPT: ED: Wadi Digla, Wadi Garawi, Wadi Hoff (March to August); LNVD: Kafr Hakim, Kerdassa, Mansouriah, Turah (February and October). [Sources: Museum material in ESEC].
Note. Egyptian records of this species were taken from an old list of species preserved in ESEC. However, these records seem to be doubtful and we could no t check them. The collection in ESEC was closed at the present time for unknown reasons and material was thought to be abandoned there.
Nemestrinus pallipes (Olivier, 1810)
Distribution: PA: Egypt. [Source: Richter (1988)].
Nemestrinus persicus Lichtwardt, 1909
Nemestrinus persicus Lichtwardt, 1909: 119. Type locality: Iran [as "Persien"].
Nemestrinus reticulatus Latreille, 1802
Rhynchocephalus latreillei Fischer, 1812: 195. Unjustified new name for R. reticulatus Latreille.
Nemestrina cincta Macquart, 1840: 16. Type locality: Arabia.
Nemestrina kindermanni Bischof, 1905: 172. Type locality: Turkey (Illany-Dagh, 1300 m near Kasieri).
Nemestrinus ruficornis (Macquart, 1840)
Nemestrina ruficornis Macquart, 1840: 15. Type locality: Egypt.
Distribution: PA: Egypt.
Local distribution and dates of collection: EGYPT: Unknown. [Source: Original description (Macquart 1840)]
Nemestrina rufipes Olivier, 1810: 94. Type locality: Egypt.
Nemestrina lateralis Wiedemann, 1828: 560. Type locality: Egypt.
Distribution: AF: Saudi Arabia [as “South-western part”]. PA: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, United Arab Emirates. [Sources: Lichtwardt (1909), Abdu and Shaumar (1985), Richter (1988), Judas (2016), present study]
Local distribution and dates of collection: EGYPT: CS: Mersa Matrouh (January to April); ED: El-Mallah, Wadies south-east of Cairo (March to August); Fayoum: Siala (March); LNVD: Abu-Rawash, Beni Sweif, Cairo, Ezbet El-Nakhl, Giza, Helwan, Kerdassa, Maadi, Marg (March to June); UNV: Assiut, Gebel El-Halal (March and April); WD: Mout (Dakhla Oasis) (March). [Sources: Lichtwardt (1909), El-Hashash et al. (2021) and museum material in EFC, ESEC and PPDD]. SAUDI ARABIA: Al-Baha: Dhi Ayn (April). [Source: collected material]
Note. This species was recorded herein for the first time from Saudi Arabia and the Afrotropical Region, considering the south-western district of Saudi Arabia as affiliated to the Afrotropical Region.
Material examined: Material examined: EGYPT: 1 male, Ezbet El-Nakhl, 25.4.1924,Efflatoun leg.; 1male, 1 female, Helwan, 3.4.1934, Farag leg.; 4 females, Helwan, 8.4.1932, Farag leg.; 1 male, Kerdassa, 11.4.1926, R.M. leg.; 1 female, Wadi Garawi, 31.3.1930, Farag leg.; EFC. SAUDI ARABIA: 1 female, Dhi Ayn, 11.IV.2012, sweeping net, El-Hawagry leg., MSHC.
Genus TRICHOPSIDEA Westwood, 1839
Symmictus Loew, 1858: 368. Type species: Symmictus costatus Loew, 1858, by monotypy.
Trichopsidea costata (Loew, 1858) (Fig. 4)
Symmictus costata Loew, 1858: 368. Type locality: South Africa (Cape).
Dicrotrypana flavopilosa Bigot, 1879: lxvii. Type locality: "Europa merid.?"
Symmictus costatus ssp. frischi Teschner, 1965: 366. Type locality: France (Crau).
Distribution: AF: Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Saudi Arabia [as “South-western part”], Somalia, South Africa. PA: Algeria, Armenia, France, Spain. [Sources: Greathead (1958), Richter (1988), Narchuk (2007), El-Hawagry et al. (2017)]
Local distribution and dates of collection: SAUDI ARABIA: Al-Baha: Jabal Shada al-A’la Nature Reserve (December); Asir: Raydah Nature Reserve August. [Sources: El-Hawagry et al. (2016), El-Hawagry et al. (2017) and collected material]
Material examined: SAUDI ARABIA: 1 male, Al-Baha, Shada, 10.XII.2014, light trap, Al-Dhafer et al. leg., KSMA; 1 female, Asir, Raydah, 26.VIII.2014, pitfall trap, Al-Dhafer et al. leg., KSMA.
Only 5 species of Nemestrinidae were treated in the present study as recorded from Saudi Arabia. The number of species is still low and does not represent the real fauna of the family in this large country. However, this low diversity of species should be interpreted cautiously, since the family, as many other dipterous families, seems to lack sampling efforts in Saudi Arabia and extensive faunistic and systematic studies are required. On the other hand, comprehensive surveys by late Efflatoun Bey and his co-workers and their followers started in Egypt more than 100 years ago (El-Hawagry et al. 2020). These surveys resulted in considerable number of nemestrinid flies pinned and preserved in the Egyptian insect collections.
El-Hashash et al. (2021) synonymized Nemestrinus abdominalis Olivier (1810) and Nemestrinus fascifrons (Bigot 1888) with Nemestrinus ater (Olivier, 1810). However, they did not check the types of these 3 species, and they almost based on original descriptions and/or some specimens preserved in EFC. They assumed that these specimens were identified by late Efflatoun Bey as N. fascifrons and N. ater. They stated that all specimens were of one sexually dimorphic species as males were identified as N. fascifrons and females as N. ater. Consequently, they synonymized N. fascifrons with N. ater based on this assumed Efflatoun’s identifications. However, these specimens are not types and there were no labels in the box or under any specimen to indicate who identified them. So, these identifications are doubtful and may be wrong. In like manner, there are no specimens of N. abdominalis preserved in any Egyptian insect museum to be checked. Consequently, we cannot adopt these synonymies without checking the types which are not available for us. Our viewpoint agrees with that of Sack (1933) and Paramonov (1945) who keyed the 3 species and clearly differentiated between them using identifiable features.
Lichtwardt (1909) and Bequaert (1938) synonymized Nemestrinus ruficornis (Macquart, 1840) with Nemestrinus rufipes (Olivier, 1810). However, Sack (1933), Paramonov (1945) and Richter (1988) considered it as a separate valid species. El-Hashash et al. (2021) adopted the first opinion and considered the 2 species as synonyms without checking the type material or any other material of N. ruficornis and based only on the original descriptions. Types of this species were not available to validate its classification. Consequently, we cannot adopt this synonymy as well.
Hope the results of this study may provide the basis for systematic studies and fauna analyses of future works on Nemestrinidae. It seems likely that further species will be discovered with more research involving a variety of collecting methods.
In the present study, the family Nemestrinidae was catalogued in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The study revealed that 13 nemestrinid species belonging to 2 genera, Nemestrinus and Trichopsidea, and 2 subfamilies, Nemestrininae and Falleniinae, were represented in the two countries. Two of these species, Nemestrinus ater (Olivier) and N. rufipes (Olivier), are newly recorded from Saudi Arabia.
Availability of data and materials
Data supporting the conclusions of this article are presented in the main manuscript.
Efflatoun Bey’s collection, Department of Entomology, Faculty of Science, Cairo University, Egypt
Entomological Society of Egypt Collection, Cairo, Egypt
King Saud University Museum of Arthropods, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Lower Nile Valley and Delta
Magdi El-Hawagry’s personal collection, Cairo University, Egypt
Plant Protection Research Institute Collection, Ministry of Agriculture, Dokki, Giza, Egypt
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This research was funded by Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University Researchers Supporting Project number (PNURSP2022R37), Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. We are also indebted to the following people for providing critical assistance throughout this study: Dr Ayman Mohey Eldin, Head of Classification Research Department, Plant Protection Research Institute, Agricultural Research Centre, Ministry of Agriculture, Dokki, Egypt; Dr Shaun Winterton and Dr Martin Hauser, California Department of Food & Agriculture, Sacramento, USA; Dr Babak Gharali, Plant Protection Research Department, Qazvin Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Center, Qazvin, Iran. Thanks go to the research team of the EFC, PPDD and KSMA for their assistance throughout the study.
This research was funded by Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University Researchers Supporting Project Number (PNURSP2022R37), Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
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El-Hawagry, M., Al-Khalaf, A.A., Soliman, A.M. et al. The Nemestrinidae in Egypt and Saudi Arabia (Brachycera: Diptera). Egypt J Biol Pest Control 32, 26 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41938-022-00525-7