Genus Cleptes Latreille, 1802

Last updated on November 28th, 2023

Genus Cleptes Latreille, 1802From: Kimsey L.S. & Bohart R.M., 1990 (1991) – The chrysidid wasps of the world. Oxford University Press, ix-652 pp.


Cleptes Latreille 1802:316. Type: Sphex semiaurata Linnaeus 1761. Monobasic.
Lustrina Kurian 1955:86. Type: Lustrina assamensis Kurian 1955:87. Monobasic. New synonymy.
Cleptes (Holcocleptes) Móczár 1962:118. Type: Cleptes aerosus Förster 1853. Monobasic and orig. desig.
Cleptes (Leiocleptes) Móczár 1962:118. Type: Cleptes nitidulus Fabricius 1793. Orig. desig.
Cleptes (Zimmermannia) Móczár 1962:120. Type: Cleptes ignitus Fabricius 1787. Orig. desig.
Cleptes (Melanocleptes) Móczár 1962:122. Type: Cleptes morawitzi Radoszkowsky 1877. Orig. desig.
Cleptes (Chrysocleptes) Móczár 1962:122. Type: Cleptes putoni Buysson 1886. Orig. desig.
Cleptes (Oxycleptes) Móczár 1962:124. Type: Cleptes orientalis Dahlbom 1854. Monobasic and orig. desig.
Cleptes (Neocleptes) Kimsey 1981:816. Type: Cleptes fritzi Kimsey 1981. Monobasic and orig. desig.


Generic diagnosis

Head as wide as long or longer; eyes small, following head contour, not bulging; mid ocellus equal to or smaller than antennal socket; malar space usually more than 1 MOD; mandibles generally robust, with three or more apical teeth; mesopleuron with scrobe, scrobal sulcus, and omaulus present in some species; metanotum weakly obtuse or flat in profile; propodeal tooth triangular and generally shorter than broad; tarsal claws with one perpendicular submedial tooth fore wing discoidal cell indicated by stained vein remnants.


These wasps are parasites of tenthredinid sawflies. In North America Smith (1962) reared specious (as provancheri) from Neodiprion sp., Dahlsten (1961, 1967) reared purpuratus from Neodiprion sp., and Darling and Smith (1985) reared semiauratus from Nematus hispidae Smith. In Europe Gauss (1964) reared semiauratus from Nematus sp. and Pristophora sp. Mocsary (1889) listed Nematus ribesii Scopoli as the host of nitidulus and semiauratus.


Cleptes is primarily a Holarctic genus, with 46 species in Europe and 8 in North America. One European species, semiauratus, has become established in the north-eastern United States. In addition, there is one species in Argentina and eight in Asia, occurring as far south as Vietnam.


Since the time of Dahlbom, Cleptes was thought to consist of two major groups; species with metallic coloration, Cleptes s. s. and non-metallic species, Heterocoelia-types (Dalla Torre 1892; Mocsáry 1889; Linsenmaier 1959a). Móczár (1951, 1962) did not mention Heterocoelia nigriventris Dahlbom. Obviously, none of the first three authors ever examined the type of this genus. However, Móczár did see the type. This species is not a chrysidid, but belongs in the bethylid subfamily Mesitiinae, as discussed by Móczár (1971).

Cleptes is the largest and most widespread of the cleptine genera, including 69 species. Móczár (1962) and Kimsey (1981) divided the genus into eight subgenera. Re-examination of Cleptes on a world basis indicates that these subgeneric groupings are far from discrete, particularly when the Asian species are considered. For this reason we synonymize the subgenera and, instead, divide Cleptes into species groups.

These groupings are based to a large extent on the descriptions of Móczár (1951, 1962), Tsuneki (1959), and Linsenmaier (1959a, 1968) as we have not been able to see many of the types. As a result, further study may indicate the need for more species groups than given here, and some groupings may also prove to be artificial.

European species

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Agnoli G.L. & Rosa P. (2024) Genus Cleptes Latreille, 1802, in: website. Interim version 16 July 2024, URL: