Synagris Wasps

Synagris proserpinaSynagris fulva
Wasps of the genus Synagris are among the largest and most conspicuous wasps found in sub-Saharan Africa. Some of the species are widespread in distribution and common. The also display some of the most bizarre morphological characters found in any of the bees or wasps and even among insects. What is surprising is that there has been little or no research on these wasps since the first two decades of this century.

There are approximately 30-35 species in the genus and at least a few undescribed species are known to be present in museum collections. The genus consists of four subgenera, Synagris , Paragris, Pseudagris and Rhynchagris.

The most notable morphological features occur in large males of the subgenera Synagris and Paragris. S. (S.) cornuta (photograph at top left), one of the most common and widespread of wasps in central and west Africa, displays two mandibular "tusks" in large males, the size of the tusks correlated with the size of the male (but only in larger males). A closely related species, S. (S.) proserpina , has similar structures though these appear slightly more robust. This species replaces S. cornuta in east Africa. The third species in the subgenus, S. fulva, is one of the most bizarre wasps I have ever seen. It has two relatively flimsy mandibular "tusks" which curve outwards (in contrast to those in S. cornuta and S. proserpina) and a third, clypeal, "horn" which arcs forward from the centre of the clypeus (photo, top right). I have seen specimens of large males which resemble S. fulva, but in which only one large clypeal horn is present. These males almost certainly belong to an undescribed species.

Species of Synagris

The genus Synagris includes the following 28 described species:

Subgenus Synagris

cornuta (Linne, 1758)
proserpina Gribodo, 1891
fulva Mocsary, 1903

Subgenus Paragris

abyssinica Guerin, 1848
aestuans(Fabricius, 1781)
analis Saussure, 1856
calida (Linne, 1758)
crassipes Kohl, 1894
elephas Andre, 1895
fasciataMocsary, 1903
hubertiSaussure, 1856
kohliMaidl, 1914
maxillosa Saussure, 1863
mirabilis Guerin, 1848
negusiBuysson, 1906
ornatissima Maidl, 1914
parvula Schulthess, 1928
rubescens Giordani Soika, 1989
rufopictaTullgren, 1904
spiniventris(Illiger, 1802)
spinosuscula Saussure, 1852
stridens Giordani Soika, 1987

Subgenus Rhynchagris

mediocarinata Giordani Soika, 1944
vicaria Stadelmann, 1897
Subgenus Pseudagris
aterrima Maidl, 1914
carinata Saussure, 1863
junodiana Schulthess, 1899
versicolor Schulthess, 1914
References:

Bequaert, J. 1918. Vespidae of the Belgian Congo. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 39: 1-384.

Maidl, F. 1914.