Aprosthema melanurum

One of three very similar Aprosthema species found in the British Isles. The separation of the three species has been subject to much study and conjecture over the years. Aprosthema melanurum is bivoltine and shows seasonal dimorphism adding to the confusion. Head shape differs in that the summer generation has a short head with strongly narrowing temples and longer flagellae, whereas the overwintering spring generation has a longer head with parallel or posteriorly broadening temples and shorter flagellae. Vikberg postulates that the head shape corresponds to the muscle requirements needed for emergence from the cocoon. The summer spun cocoon is weakly formed from soft plant material, whereas the overwintering cocoon (spring generation) is stronger and constructed underground.

Aprosthema melanurum males can be distinguished from Aprosthema fusicorne by the penis valve shape. Females of melanurum have hind tibiae and tarsae with extensive infuscate colouring.

Larvae feed on Lathyrus pratensis L. and in full grown larvae the anal tergum has long, sharp medial projections. For key to species see Vikberg, 2004.

Jump to other Argidae

Status: Rare

Distribution: England

Flight period: Bivoltine, May to August

Plant associations: Lathyrus spp. (vetchlings) incl...

Lathyrus pratensis (Meadow Vetchling) (3)
Lathyrus tuberosus (Tuberous Pea) (3)


1. Benson, R.B., 1952. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects. Hymenoptera, Symphyta, Vol 6, Section 2(a-c), Royal Entomological Society, London

2. Liston A, Knight G, Sheppard D, Broad G, Livermore L (2014) Checklist of British and Irish Hymenoptera - Sawflies, ‘Symphyta’. Biodiversity Data Journal 2: e1168. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.2.e1168

3. Lorenz, H. and Kraus M., 1957. Die Larvalsystematik der Blattwespen (Tenthredinoidea und Megalodontoidea). - Abhandlungen zur Larvalsystematik der Insekten No. 1. Berlin: Akadamie - Verlag

4. Vikberg, V. (2004). Seasonal head dimorphism and taxonomy of some European species of Aprosthema (Hymenoptera: Symphyta: Argidae). Beiträge zur Entomologie= Contributions to Entomology, 54(1), 107-125