Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

ICHNEUMONIDAE: : Enicospilus Stephens 1835


Characteristics of Enicospilus include: 1. Body size usually >20mm but sometimes 10-20mm; 2. Position of spiracle on T1 is clearly behind the centre; 3. Aerolet absent with sclerotized patches in the forewing; 4. Colour of face is not all black; 5. Metasoma compressed laterally; 6. Size of ocelli large; 7. Length of antennae are shorter than body; 8. Length of ovipositor is barely visible; 9. Wings present; 10. Colour of wings hyaline; 11. Sternaulus absent; 12. Shape of face in lateral view flat or only weakly bulging; 13. Sternite on T1 (viewed laterally) extending past spiracle sometimes forming a long cylinder with tergite; 14. Shape of T1 (viewed laterally) evenly curved; 15. Number of teeth in mandibles 2; 16. Metasoma same colour throughout; 17. Length of T1 vs T2 subequal in length; 18. Sculpture on mesoscutum finely pitted, many hairs; 19. Width of T1 (viewed dorsally) anterior part slender often parallel, strongly widening behind spiracle; or of uniform width (slightly widening posteriorly); 20. Glymma on T1 absent; 21. Sculpture on metasoma smooth with a semi-glossy or satin appearance at least on T2; 22. Propodeum reaching past coxal insertion, but not reaching halfway along metacoxae.

Similarity to Other Taxa

In terms of their large size, body colouration, and very thin ‘knife-like’ metasoma (laterally flattened), Enicospilus are most similar to the genera Netelia (Tryphoninae) and Ophion (Ophioninae). However, these other genera do not have sclerotized patches in the forewing. Netelia has a closed areolet in the forewing, a glymma, and also has the spiracle on T1 is at or before the middle of the segment (it is towards the end of the segment in Enicospilus ).

Other large ichneumonids in New Zealand have coloured stripes, spots or bands on their body, and are thus distinct from Enicospilus which are brown throughout. Enicospilus also have clear wings which seperate them from some similar sized genera ( Ctenochares , Lissopimpla and Echthromorpha ).

Distribution in NZ

North Island: ND, AK. South Island: NN, MC. Offshore Islands: KE.

Species in NZ

Two native species: Enicospilus insularis (Kirby 1881), and E. skeltonii (Kirby 1881), which are both also in Australia.

Biology & hosts

Enicospilus is a large cosmopolitan genus that is most diverse in the tropics, very few species occur in the temperate south (Gauld 1984). They are parasitoids of Lepidoptera (moth) larvae. Very little is known about their biology in New Zealand, although E. insularis is known to parasitise the greasy cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon , an exotic moth found throughout New Zealand which can cause serious damage to a number of agricultural crops. The host of E. skeltonii is not known. Enicospilus are usually active at night but they are uncommon in New Zealand.

Sources of information

Gauld ID. 1977. A revision of the Ophioninae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) of Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology, Supplementary Series 49: 1-112.
Gauld ID. 1984. An Introduction to the Ichneumonidae of Australia. London, British Museum (Natural History). 413 p.
Parrott AW. 1954. New Zealand Ichneumonidae. III. Sub-family Ophioninae. Tribe Ophionini. Transactions of the Royal Society of New Zealand 8: 627-645.
Valentine EW & Walker AK. 1991. Annotated Catalogue of New Zealand Hymenoptera. DSIR Plant Protection Report 4. General Printing Services, 84 pp.


Ward DF & Schnitzler FR. 2013. Ichneumonidae of New Zealand. Genus Enicospilus
Accessed: 14 August 2020


v1.0. Ward DF & Schnitzler FR. 2013