Varicus vespa

Common Name

Wasp Goby

Year Described

Hastings & Bortone, 1981


Dorsal Fin: VII, 10
Anal Fin: 7-9
Pectoral Fin: 15-17
Caudal Fin: 17 segmented rays
Vertebrae: 11+16= 27 (total)

Body stout and tapering posteriorly. Eye relatively large. Tongue bilobed (round in V. benthonis). Dorsal fin with anterior two spines not elongate and last two spines more spaced than the first five. Pelvic fin rays branched with the last much shorter than first spine. Pelvic fins not fused. One anal-fin pterygiophore anterior to the first haemal spine. Papillae rows 5i and 5s are separate. Cephalic lateralis pores absent. Body scaled anteriorly to the middle of the second dorsal fin (9-14 rows). Belly unscaled. Basicaudal scales present.


Coloration (after Tornabene et al., 2016) is whitish with four yellow-brown body bands on the body (first under D1 and last on caudal peduncle). Pale interspaces much wider with small yellow dorsal saddles between each full band. Pre-dorsal area with three yellow saddles. Cheek and pectoral fin with orange-brown blotch and yellow eye-band. Dorsal fin strikingly tricolored with yellow base and white/black margins. Caudal fin yellowish with a black margin and thin submarginal white band. Anal fin with black distal margin. Pelvic and pectoral fin yellow. Eye yellow.


Maximum known size 31.4mm SL.


A deepwater goby collected at around 183m on soft mud bottoms.


Type series taken in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Possible records from Guyana (Hastings et al., 1981) and Brazil (Simon et al., 2013) appear to match this species.


Hastings, P.A. & S.A. Bortone. 1981. Chriolepis vespa, a new species of gobiid fish from the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington v. 94 (no. 2): 427-436.

Hastings, P. A., & L.T. Findley. 2015. Chriolepis prolata, a new species of Atlantic goby (Teleostei: Gobiidae) from the North American continental shelf. Zootaxa. 3904(4): 589-595.

Simon, T., R.M. Macieira, & J.C. Joyeux. 2013. The shore fishes of the Trindade–Martin Vaz insular complex: an update. Journal of fish biology, 82(6): 2113-2127.

Tornabene, L., J.L. Van Tassell, R.G. Gilmore, D.R. Robertson, F. Young, & C.C. Baldwin. 2016a. Molecular phylogeny, analysis of character evolution, and submersible collections enable a new classification of a diverse group of gobies (Teleostei: Gobiidae: Nes subgroup), including nine new species and four new genera. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Tornabene, L., D.R. Robertson, & C.C. Baldwin. 2016b. Varicus lacerta, a new species of goby (Teleostei, Gobiidae, Gobiosomatini, Nes subgroup) from a mesophotic reef in the southern Caribbean. ZooKeys. 596: 143.

Other Notes

Differs from the “typical” Varicus by papillae pattern (separate) and having branched pelvic rays. More study is needed when more specimens can be examined (Tornabene et al, 2016).

Material from Guyana and Brazil need to be studied to see if they are conspecific with V. vespa from the type locality.