Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Sawflies, Wasps)

This insect order is diverse and non-conforming! The smallest insect and the largest brood known are found in parasitic wasps. According to Grissell, “the largest insect egg, the most spectacular matings, and the largest sexual orgies are found in bees.” He also states that ants have the highest heat tolerance, the most toxic venom, and are the fastest.

Hymenoptera are the 2nd largest insect order in the world, yet it is estimated there are up to 2.5 million species in this order not yet studied. Hymenoptera perform important functions in our world and pollinate about 1/3 of all the food we eat. Of all the insects in this order, 75% of them feed on other insects; think about how important this is to the world!! They are also great at recycling nutrients into our soils.

When studying this order, one must just expect that nothing will be true of all those in one family, much less in one genus! There will be an exception! Even the name Hymenoptera has possible double meanings: ptera is “wing” in Greek but is the prefix hymen which means “membranous” or hymeno which means “the god of marriage.” Both will work since one structural aspect of Hymenoptera is the forewing and backwing are connected by a hook.

Hymenoptera larvae are not mobile. When the female lays the egg or eggs, they/it must be where that larvae will feed or the larvae nest must be provisioned. In some cases a single bee, wasp, or ant egg can produce more than one larva and they can produce if they are not mated.  The length of time that larvae remain in this stage is determined by the temperature.  Most overwinter as larvae. Queens overwinter as adults.

Forty-seven families of this order, about 76,000 species, are parasitoids rather than parasitic.  Most parasites are smaller than their hosts and may not always kill their host. A parasitoid always kills the host and is about the same size as the host. Interestingly, parasitoids are mostly attracted to plants with small flowers, such as Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea). Plants with larger flowers attract the larger Hymenoptera, such as bees. Both are attracted to colors and scents. Predatory wasps differ vastly, not only in the insects they feed their young but in other biological ways.

It’s very difficult to ID a wasp from a photo alone. What a wasp is hunting and where it lives helps with identifying to species. Solitary wasps are defined by these 2 aspects. Predatory wasps are defined by their ovipositor while some predatory wasps are pollen-collectors and not predatory at all!

Although many of us are familiar with the social aspects of bees and ants, most adults of this order are solitary. The sole purpose of males is to mate and most females have no maternal responsibilities once they have laid their eggs.

List – Updated Feb 2024

Ants

Sawflies

Wasps

Braconidae (Braconid Wasps)

Agathis             

Aleiodes burrus            

Atanycolus longicauda              

Bracon     

Braconinae              

Charmon extensor       

Vipio    

 

Crabonidae (Apoid Wasps)

Alysson              

Astata 

Clitemnestra bipunctata           

Crabronina (subtribe) 

Lestica 

Psenini (tribe)  

Trypoxylon       

 

Cynipidae (Gall Wasps)

Antistrophus silphii      

Antistrophus    

Ceroptres          

Dryinidae (Pincer Wasps)

Deinodryinus atriventris          

Encyrtidae (Encyrtid Wasps)

Microterys        

 

Eucharitidae

Pseudochalcura gibbosa          

 

Eulophidae

Euplectrus       

Ichneumonidae

Anomalon         

Campopleginae subfamily       

Coleocentrus rufus     

Cremastinae (subfamily)           

Diplazon laetatorius    

Enicospilus purgatus   

Ichneumonini 

Leurus caeruliventris   

Macrocentinae              

Macrocentrus 

Megarhyssa atrata       

Megarhyssa macrurus macrurus          

Mesochorus    

Messatoporus discoidalis        

Metopiinae (subfamily)

Netelia               

Odontocolon   

Ophion              

Pimpla               

Spilichneumon             

Spilopteron occiputale     

Therion circumflexum  

Mutillidae (Velvet Ants)

Timulla subhyalina 

 

Myrmosidae

Myrmosa         

Pomplinidae (Spider Wasps)

Anoplius subgenus Anoplius   

Ceropales maculata     

Episyron biguttatus      

Poecilopompilus interruptus  

 

Pteromalidae

Pteromalus cassotis    

Sphecidae (Thread-waisted Wasps)

Chalybion californicum             

Isodontia mexicana     

Sceliphron caementarium        

Torymidae

Monodontomerus   

Vespidae (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps)

Ancistrocerus antilope              

Ancistrocerus campestris         

Ancistrocerus  

Dolichovespula arenaria           

Dolichovespula maculata         

Eumenes fraternus      

Euodynerus foraminatus          

Polistes dominula         

Polistes fuscatas            

Vespula flavopilosa      

Vespula germanica       

Vespula maculifrons