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Erythraeid larvae parasitizing dragonflies in Zambia—description of Leptus (Leptus) chingombensis sp. nov. with data on biology and ecology of host-parasite interactions

Rafał Bernard, Magdalena Felska, Joanna Mąkol


A survey of odonate fauna in Zambia (Central Province, Luano District) resulted in discovery of ectoparasitic larvae of Leptus (L.) chingombensis sp. nov. (Trombidiformes: Parasitengona, Erythraeidae) on four species of dragonflies (Odonata) representing four different families assigned to Zygoptera and Anisoptera. The morphological characteristics of the new species is supported with DNA barcode sequence. Despite some intra-group variation related to relatively large sample, the morphological and genetic consistence confirm the common specific identity of the material. A brief comparison of Leptus spp. hitherto known from the Afrotropic as larvae is given. Supplementary data to the descriptions of Leptus (L.) bicristatus Fain et Elsen, 1987, Leptus (L.) aldonae Haitlinger, 1987 and Leptus (L.) soddagus Haitlinger, 1990, based on examination of type material, are provided.
In the case of L. (L.) chingombensis sp. nov., the parasite load reached high, previously not recorded for Odonata–terrestrial Parasitengona association values, attaining at 44 and 49 larvae. Clear topic preferences towards the ventral side of the host’s body were recorded, with an additional tendency to distal parts of synthorax and the ventral depression of the abdomen.
We hypothesize that the infestation did not take place synchronously at dragonflies emergence, but consisted in repeated infestation events during the recurrent appearance of dragonflies in the contact microhabitat occupied by Leptus.
The very local character of the finding along with the regular appearance of larvae parasitizing dragonflies, obviously favoured by specific habitat conditions, no doubts confirms the non-accidental nature of the phenomenon.


Erythraeidae, Odonata, attachment site, morphology, DNA barcode, Africa


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