Meteorus gigas (Shaw and Jones)




Meteorus rugonasus cocoon




Host Pteronymia zerlina larva on Solanum



 Female lateral habitus




Head, lateral profile, 180x magnification



Diagnostic features of adult wasp

Body length 4.0-5.0 mm; head bright orange; mandible strongly twisted; clypeus coarsely rugose and bulging; occipital carina complete; wings clear; propodeum areolate-rugose to rugose; hind coxa bi-colored, yellowish white basally, brown to black apically; tarsal claw with large basal lobe; dorsopes absent; ventral borders of first metasomal tergite completely joined along basal ½ of segment; ovipositor 1.7-2.0 x longer than first metasomal tergite; tergite 2 often with white elongate-oval marking extending onto base of tergite 1.

Biology and rearing records

In Ecuador, Meteorus rugonasus has been reared from second and third instar larvae of Pteronymia zerlina (Hewitson) (Nymphalidae: Ithomiinae) feeding on Solanum (Solanaceae). The parasitoid is a usually solitary koinobiont endoparasitoid. More rarely, two have been reared per host caterpillar. The pendant cocoon of the wasp is suspended from a relatively short thread. This is the only Meteorus species known to attack ithomiine Nymphalidae.


First discovered at the Yanayacu Biological Research Station in Napo Province, Ecuador. The species also occurs in subandean wet forests in Colombia. It is known from elevations ranging from 730 to 2100 meters.

Similar species

Meteorus rugonasus is similar to Meteorus uno (Zitani) and Meteorus oviedoi (Shaw and Nishida) (both from Costa Rica). All three species have an orange head, extensive black body markings, rugose clypeus, and metasomal tergum 1 fused basally into a smooth tubular petiole. But Meteorus rugonasus can be easily distinguished by its more strongly bulging clypeus, its unique association with ithomiine caterpillars, its distribution in the Andean highlands, and color differences as noted by Shaw and Jones (2009).


The species name rugonasus means "wrinkled nose" in Latin, referring to the prominent, coarsely wrinkled clypeus, which in lateral profile looks like a wrinkled nose. It is also a play on words, since one might "wrinkle one's nose" in response to a nasty chemical (the host caterpillar is presumed to possess toxic alkaloids).


Shaw, S.R. and G.Z. Jones. 2009. A new species of solitary Meteorus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) reared from caterpillars of toxic butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in Ecuador. Journal of Insect Science, volume 9, article 34, pages 1-8. Available online:

Aguirre Fernandez, H., C.E. Sarmiento, and S.R. Shaw. 2011. Taxonomic revision and morphometric analysis of Meteorus Haliday 1835 (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Meteorinae) from Colombia. Zootaxa 2938: 1-68.