Research Article
Research Article
A new species of Neoleva (Caelifera, Acridoidea, Acrididae, Gomphocerinae) from Central Tanzania
expand article infoClaudia Hemp§
‡ University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany
§ Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt, Germany
Open Access


A new species of Neoleva Jago, N. magna sp. nov. is described from Central Tanzania. A key to all species of Neoleva is presented.


East Africa, grasshopper, taxonomy


Neoleva Jago, 1996 was erected by Jago (1996) with N. mega Jago, 1996 from Ethiopia as the type species, and another three species from Kenya were included. Neoleva are stocky brachypterous Gomphocerinae. The antennae are longer than the head and the pronotum together. Males have a rounded subgenital plate and simple cerci. There is a marked sexual dimorphism, the females being considerably larger than the males (Fig. 1). Males show a contrasting color pattern with an orange dorsal abdomen and orange parts on the hind femora, while females are duller in color. In males a pair of white spots at the anterior margin of the pronotum is present and a pair of angulate cream to white bands on the meso- and metanotum. The epiphallus has a strong bridge and a narrow interspace (Jago 1996). Neoleva are a geophilous species found in habitats ranging from semi-desert to savanna woodlands.

Fig. 1. 

Types of Neoleva species. A. Male holotype of N. mega; B. Types of N. bufoides, left male, right female; C. Types of N. robertsoni, left male, right female; D. Types of N. kevani, left male, right female.

In this paper, a new species, N. magna, is described from the Mpwapwa District in Central Tanzania.

Material and methods

Material studied.—All available specimens of the four species of Neoleva, including the type specimens present in the Natural History Museum London, UK, were studied and compared to specimens of the new species, Neoleva magna sp. nov. from Tanzania.

Genital preparations.—For genital preparations, specimens were relaxed in water, the phallus extracted manually, macerated in 5% KOH, then neutralized in 5% acetic acid.

Photographic procedure.—The macerated epiphallus was photographed with an Olympus Tough TG 6 Camera, and the images were processed using the stacking program supplied with that camera.

Measurements.—The body length refers to the body length of the insect from head to the tip of the abdomen. Additionally, the total length according to Jago (1996), taken from the frons to the tips of the folded posterior femora, is given.

Depositories.—BMNH: Natural History Museum London, UK. CCH: Collection of Claudia Hemp.


Neoleva magna sp. nov.

Material examined.

Holotype: TANZANIA • ♂; Mwpapwa District, Changalawe Hill; 6°53'47"S, 36°02'46"E; miombo woodlands, ca 750 m; March 2015, C. Hemp leg.; BMNH. Paratypes: TANZANIA • 1♀; same data as holotype; BMNH •2♂, 2♀, same data as holotype; CCH • 3♂, 1♀; Msaze village near Gulwe; 6°31'23"S, 36°22'12"E; 1000 m a.s.l.; March 2017 and March 2020; C. Hemp leg; CCH.


Male. General coloration: A speckled pattern of gray, dark, and white patches with abdomen, inner sides of the hind femora, and apical parts of the tibiae orange. Tegmina light brown in costal area, darker brown above with some dark spots around the media area (Fig. 2). Pronotum with well-developed pair of white spots at anterior margin and angulate white lines on meso- and metazona (Fig. 3D). Ventral parts of lateral pronotal lobes white or creamy (Fig. 3A). Lunules of hind femora dark with a postgenicular white band both on femur and tibia (Fig. 2A). Remaining part of outer side of hind femora greyish or creamy with three dark fasciae on dorsal ridge. These fasciae extend into inner parts of the hind femora. Fore and mid legs speckled white or greyish and black.

Fig. 2. 

Neoleva magna sp. nov. A. Male; B. Female.

Fig. 3. 

Neoleva magna sp. nov., morphological details of male. A. Lateral view on head and pronotum; B. Dorsal view on abdominal apex with supra-anal plate; C. Face; D. Head and pronotum, dorsal view.

Head and antennae. Antenna about 1.5 times longer than head and pronotum, about 13 mm. Frontal ridge flat coarsely punctate on upper part and with a medial ocellus at about the middle of the ridge (Fig. 3C).

Pronotum and legs. Pronotum crossed by three deep sulci, the posterior one separating the mesozona from the metazona continuing deep into the lateral pronotal lobes with an abrupt angle about in the middle of the pronotal lobes and then running anteriorly almost to the anterior margin (Fig. 3A). A medial carina is faint on pro- and mesozona but well-developed on the metazona. The tegmina reach to about the middle of the abdomen and are tectate with elevated veins along the whole length.

Abdomen. Supra-anal plate triangular, at tip appendiculate (Jago 1996; compare his figs 109–112, p. 80 and Fig. 3 B). Cerci are short and slightly laterally compressed (Fig. 3 B).

Internal genitalic morphology. Ancorae of epiphallus very weakly sclerotized and comparatively small. Bridge narrow. Inner and outer lophi typical for Neoleva (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4. 

Epiphallus of Neoleva magna sp. nov.

Female. Larger and stouter than the male (Fig. 2B), color pattern duller but generally similar to male having a pair of white dots at the anterior pronotal margin and angular white lines at the posterior part of the pronotum (Fig. 5A). Some females are uniformly brown while others also have orange hind femora. Ovipositor valves short; dorsal surfaces of upper valves concave, forming an almost cup-like structure with dark sclerotized margins. Ventral valves with slightly undulating margin, this margin also dark sclerotized with more acute tips (Fig. 5B).

Fig. 5. 

Female Neoleva magna sp. nov. A. Dorsal view of head, pronotum, and spread wings B. Lateral view on abdominal apex.



Males (N=4) females (N=6)
Head width 4.2–4.4 5.7–6.1
Interocular Distance 1.0–1.1 1.1–1.2
Posterior femur length 13.0–12.8 17.5–18.8
Posterior femur width 3.7–3.8 4.7–5.2
Tegminal length 7.1–7.6 10.1–10.9
Pronotum length 3.3–3.5 4.8–5.2
Pronotum width 4.7–4.9 6.7–7.8
Body length 17.7–18.5 26.2–26.5
Total length* 18.5–22.0 24.5–29.5

Differential diagnosis.

Neoleva magna sp. nov. is the largest known species in the genus, males having a total length of about 18.5 to 22 mm, following Jago (1996) who measured the total length (frons to tips of folded posterior femora). All other known species of Neoleva are smaller. The females are also larger than those of the known other species, although means overlap (see Table 1). Male N. magna sp. nov. resemble N. bufoides Jago, 1996 and N. robertsoni Jago, 1996 in having a white or creamy ventral margin of the pronotal lobes. In those species, however, the outer sides of the hind femora are more or less uniformly orange to red but are light grey or whitish in N. magna sp. nov. in which only the ventral and inner sides of the hind femora are vivid orange. N. mega Jago, 1996 and N. kevani Jago, 1996 appear to have much duller coloration. However, living specimens of these taxa have not been seen, and for N. mega, only the male holotype is known. N. magna sp. nov. also has an appendiculate supra-anal plate as described by Jago (1996) for N. kevani and N. mega. In contrast to the other known species of Neoleva, N. magna sp. nov. has tectate folded tegmina, while in the other species, the wings are more evenly shaped and more closely appressed to the abdomen. Internally, the male epiphallus of N. magna differs from the other three species in its relative size, the distance of the ancorae to each other and the orientation and size of the lophi.

Table 1.

Morphological characters distinguishing Neoleva species.

Species /characters Tegmina Total length male Total length females Color ventral lateral pronotal lobes Supra-anal plate
N. magna sp. nov. tectate >18.5 mm 24.5–29.5 mm white/creamy apical appendix
N. robertsoni lobes <18.5 mm 22.6–25.7 mm white/creamy tapered
N. bufoides lobes <18.5 mm 22.2–24 mm white/creamy strongly tapered
N. kevani lobes <18.5 mm Not known brown/black apical appendix
N. mega lobes <18.5 mm Not known brown/black apical appendix




From latin: -magnus = big, because it is the largest species of the genus so far.


Ground dweller on open patches within miombo woodlands and along forest margins with sparse vegetation.


Tanzania, Mpwapwa District.

Key to Neoleva males (adapted from Jago 1996)

1 Tegmina tectiform; male body length (head to tips of folded hind femora) >18.5 mm; Central Tanzania, Mwpapwa District N. magna sp. nov.
1´ Tegmina lobe-like; male body length smaller than 18.5 mm 2
2 Lateral pronotal lobes with creamy marginal area ventrad 3
2´ Lateral pronotal lobes light brown or black ventrad 4
3 Inner lophi widely spaced. Supra-anal plate weakly tapered, lacking a transverse sulculus, with extensive melanic area and pair of darker melanic spots in basal two-fifth. (Kenya, Meru Region) N. robertsoni Jago, 1996
3´ Inner lophi comparatively closely spaced. Supra-anal plate strongly tapered, with a clear transverse sulculus and with two weak darkly pigmented areas distal to sulculus (Kenya, Lysamais area) N. bufoides Jago, 1996
4 Inner pair of lophi comparatively small, dorso-lateral angles of lophi produced and lateral margins constricted to form a waist. Abdomen vivid orange red at maturity. Supra-anal plate with strong marginal darker pigmentation and broad apical appendix. (S. Kenya) N. kevani Jago, 1996
4´ Inner pair of lophi comparatively large, dorso-lateral angles not greatly produced and central section of lateral margins not constricted. Abdomen dark brown to red and black. Supra-anal plate with small apical appendix and rather uniform darker brown pigmentation throughout lightening at margin (Ethiopia) N. mega Jago, 1996


Neoleva species are geophilous according to habitat information provided in Jago (1996) and on the labels. No information is available for the holotype Ethiopian male of N. mega. N. bufoides (Acacia shrub; sparse vegetation, Acacia thicket, banks of dry riverbed, see Jago 1996), N. robertsoni (thicket and herbs), and N. kevani (desert grass and thorn bush) are all species that were caught in savanna woodlands on patches with sparse vegetation or in semi-desert areas. N. magna sp. nov. occupies a similar habitat in miombo woodlands where it was found at two localities: South of Dodoma at the edge of Changalawe hill covered with sparse miombo forest and at a similar hill near Gulwe not far from the district city Mpwapwa. Hemp and Heller (2019) gave more information on the localities near Gulwe and Changalawe Hill, also listing syntopic Orthoptera for these areas. As already pointed out in Hemp and Heller (2019) Miombo woodlands are vanishing rapidly, mostly due to recurrent burning and transformation into agricultural fields. N. magna sp. nov. is probably also under pressure since it seems to be bound to thickets and forest edges of miombo woodlands.

Fig. 6. 

Distribution of Neoleva species. Source of map: Google maps.


We gratefully acknowledge grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Part of this research received support from the Synthesys Project, which is financed by the European Community Research Infrastructure Action under the FP6 “Structuring the European Research Area Programme,” enabling me to visit the Natural History Museum London, UK in 2022. We also thank the Commission for Science and Technology, Tanzania and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Tanzania for granting research. Thanks to Josip Skejo and Luc Willemse for improving the manuscript.


  • Hemp C, Heller K-G (2019) Orthoptera (Tettigoniidae and Acridoidea) from Miombo woodlands of Central Tanzania with the description of new taxa. Zootaxa 4671(2): 151–194.
  • Jago ND (1996) Review of western and eastern African genera of the Dnopherula complex (Orthoptera, Acridoidea, Gomphocerinae) with description of new genera and species. Journal of Orthoptera Research 5: 69–124.
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