Explanation of Names
ασκαλαφοσ 'an unknown bird, supposed to be a kind of owl'(1)
; Ascalaphus was the son of Acheron and Orphne. He told the other gods that Persephone had eaten a pomegranate in Hades and was punished by being turned into an owl (Wikipedia
8 spp. in 3 genera in our area(2)
, almost 100 genera worldwide
Bizarre creatures that look like a cross between a dragonfly and a butterfly. The body resembles that of other neuropterans, more-or-less, but the prominent antennae are clubbed like those of butterflies. Key characters:
Medium to large size
Eyes large and bulge out from head
may rest in cryptic posture with abdomen projecting from perch, resembling a twig
Wing venation of Ululodes
The two North American genera can be keyed easily based on structure of the eyes. Genus Ululodes
has divided eyes (left). Genus Ascaloptynx
(sometimes listed as Haplogenius
) has undivided eyes (right):
worldwide, mostly tropical; in our area, mostly s. US, one sp. ranges into ON(2)
; local faunas of NC(3)
Adults said to prey on insects.
Eggs are laid on twigs:
Larvae predatory, lie on ground covered with debris waiting for prey(6)(7)
. They resemble ant-lion larvae but have a finger-like appendage on the side of each segment(7)
. Images below show different instars:
Some genera actively cement sand and debris onto their bodies as camouflage. (Henry, see print references.) Pupate in a silk cocoon in leaf litter.
Henry C.S. (1977) The behavior and life histories of two North American ascalaphids. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 70: 179-195.
Lago P.K. and S. Testa (1989) Records of owlflies (Neuroptera: Ascalaphidae) from Mississippi, with a key to species. Entomological News 100(1): 11-17. (Full text