The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary








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Aleiodes indiscretus
parasitizing gypsy moth caterpillar.
|- style="text-align:center;" ! style="background: pink;" | Scientific classification |- style="text-align:center;" |

|- valign=top |Kingdom:||Animalia |- valign=top |Phylum:||Arthropoda |- valign=top |Class:||Insecta |- valign=top |Order:||Hymenoptera |- valign=top |Suborder:||Symphyta |- valign=top |Suborder:||Apocrita |} |- style="text-align:center; background:pink;" !Families |- | See text. |} A wasp is any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is not a bee, sawfly, or an ant. Less familiar, the suborder Symphyta includes the sawflies and wood wasps, which differ from the Apocrita by having a broad connection between the thorax and abdomen. Also, Symphyta larvae are mostly herbivorous and "caterpillarlike", whereas those of Apocrita are largely predatory or parasitic.

Polistes wasp building nest in California
Polistes wasp building nest in California

Most familiar wasps belong to the Aculeata, a division of the Apocrita whose ovipositors are modified into a venomous stinger that includes ants and bees. In this sense, the species called "velvet ants" (Mutillidae) are actually wasps.

A narrower meaning of the term wasp is any member of the Aculeate family Vespidae. This includes the yellowjackets (Vespula, Dolichovespula spp.) and hornets (Vespa spp.).



The following characteristics are present in most wasps:

Wasps are critically important in natural biocontrol. Almost every pest insect species has a wasp species that is predator or parasite upon it. Wasps are also increasingly used in agricultural pest control.

Mud daubers are a common species of wasp.

Some Wasp Families

A yellowjacket wasp drinking
A yellowjacket wasp drinking

See also

External links

  • Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (UK)
  • a pictoral life cycle of organ pipe wasps
  • links to many parasitic wasps and other insects used for biological control
  • phylogeny of the order Hymenoptera contrasting the groups discussed in this article

Last updated: 02-08-2005 19:34:15
Last updated: 05-03-2005 17:50:55