The wasp species is one of a kind.
Just two insect families produce the majority of wasps you see during the summer. They’re sociable, hunt, and look a lot like bees. There are 61 more families in addition to the most common wasps. These species are mostly parasitic and live alone. They’re also tiny, barely 10 mm long from head to tail. That’s one centimeter, or half an inch, for example.
There are a lot more wasp species than you realize every day, believe it or not. Yet, in order to locate them, you must be aware of the various types of wasps. Each of the 18 superfamilies is represented by a single family in the descriptions. The article then goes into more detail about wasp natural history and interesting facts.
Types and Classifications: The Different Kinds of Wasps Variaties
Hymenoptera includes sawflies, bees, and ants, and Wasps belong to this group.
Wasps have an uncommon situation when you look at the tree graphic scientists use to categorize plants and animals. Their branch isn’t solely theirs. It disregards two of the branch’s lesser parts, which are known as paraphyly.
Bees and ants are both social insects that get rid of wasps. The Apocrita suborder contains the three of them. Ants and bees are two families within that group, with wasps having 18.
Let’s begin by clarifying a few things.
1. Stephanidae – Crown wasps
The crown wasp family’s name comes from the shape of their head. The head is encircled by a shelf that extends above the eyes and resembles a crown. This is only found in two families.
The Stephanides are a long line of ancestors. When wasps, bees, and ants became a group, they remained in the earliest stages of history.
Little Stephanides are a common sight. They are small, averaging 5 to 19 mm in size. They can, however, be found in pine woodlands. Jewel beetles, wood-boring beetles, and longhorn beetles are among the hosts they can find there.
There are 345 species of crown wasps in the world, and they belong to the Stephanoidea superfamily. The worldwide range of scientists is referred to as “cosmopolitan.”
2. Trigonalidae – Trigonalid wasps
The brightly-colored Trigonalid wasps live all over the world, despite their rarity. They are the only family in the Trigonalidae superfamily, with over 90 species.
The Trigonalid young will fail to develop if no other larvae are available to eat.
- Caterpillars consume the eggs that females deposit on or near leaf margins.
- Inside the host, the eggs develop.
- The parasites may feed on the host or each other. In addition, they might wait.
- The caterpillar will be captured and served to the vespids’ children by a social wasp species. The vespid larvae will next be eaten by the Trigonalids.
The host must consume the eggs, making this strategy unusual. Grazing hosts are sometimes an intermediary host, which is even more unusual.
3. Evaniidae – Ensign wasps
Several names are used to describe the Evaniidae family of Evanioidea. Ensign wasps are a popular name for them. However, they are also known as hatchet wasps and cockroach egg parasitoid wasps. The term “hatchet” refers to their body form, while the other term refers to their preferred host.
Scientists have discovered over 400 species across the globe, with the exception of Antarctica. The majority of species prefer to live in woods or cities.
In each egg case, ootheca, of cockroaches, mothers inject one egg. The parent cockroach still bears that responsibility on occasion. The cockroach eggs are then consumed by wasp larvae as they hatch. The first to hatch will consume any other wasp larvae that may be in the same egg case.
Adults consume nectar from flowers while the youngsters eat cockroach larvae.
4. Megaspilidae – Megaspilid wasps
Megaspilid species like soil, and there are 450 of them known and 1,000 estimated. The Ceraphronoidea superfamily includes two families, and neither is as well-studied as the other.
The antennae of Dendrocerus, the genus with the most species, are covered in multiple extensions that look like feathers.
Megaspilids have double spurs on their front two tibias, while some wasps have single spurs on their middle two tibias.
A small solid-colored mark on the leading side of the wing is known as a stigma in megaspilid wings. The role of these creatures is unclear, however they differentiate them from their relatives. Nonetheless, there are Megaspilids that do not have wings.
5. Ichneumonidae – Ichneumon wasps
The Hymenoptera order, which includes wasps, bees, and ants, contains one of the most diversified groups in the world: Ichneumonidae. It comprises over 25,000 recognized species and may contain up to 100,000 additional species worldwide. It belongs to the Ichneumonoidea superfamily.
Their colors range from brilliant yellow to black, and they grow to 3 to 40 mm long. The ovipositors of this family are unique among wasps in that they are solely used to deposit eggs. Venom, on the other hand, runs through the eggs and into the host.
Many insects and spiders prefer to be hosts for Ichneumonids. Ichneumonids wield clout, unlike the other less populous families. In natural and agricultural settings, they control the number of moths, beetles, and other wasps.
6. Cynipidae – Gall wasps
You may have seen peculiar formations on tree leaves if you live in an area with a lot of oak trees.
The plant is induced to create a nest by gall wasp eggs, which cause these growths. Several species, sometimes called inquilines, will freeload with different gall species. Until they consume it, the children stay safe in the gall.
With 1,400 species ranging from 1 to 8 mm in length, gall wasps dominate the Cynipoidea superfamily. The wasp species is easy to identify because the galls and plant hosts are unique to them.
7. Proctotrupidae – Proctotrupid wasps
The Proctotrupoidea superfamily contains 400 species of proctotrupid wasps. Most species were transferred to Diapriidae since it used to contain more, but insect taxonomy is regularly revised. After such a transformation, the surviving species are referred to as relics.
These wasps live all over the globe and prefer damp woodlands and swamps. They are 3 to 15 mm long. Beetle larvae in soil litter and rotting wood are used by the majority of species. Fly-like fungus gnats are used by certain other species.
8. Diapriidae – Diaprioid wasps
The remaining 2,000 species of Proctotrupidae came here. Diapriids are classified as part of the Diaprioidea superfamily. Another 2,000 species are expected to be discovered around the world, according to scientists.
2 to 8 mm wasps develop. From having no wings to having wings with significantly fewer vein than most wasps, they come in a variety of forms. Prominent sex differences or sexual dimorphism are other characteristics. It’s possible to mistake males and females for different animals.
Adults prefer wooded areas with high concentrations of decaying vegetation and fungus. Flies, specifically fungus gnats, make up the majority of their hosts.
9. Platygastridae – Platygastrid wasps
The Platygastroidea superfamily includes 4,000 species of platygastrid wasps. They resemble black-winged ants and grow to a length of 1 to 2 mm. Some are wingless and may attack a host’s eggs while they’re underwater.
Gall midges and other flies, as well as beetles, are their hosts. Certain subfamilies, such as the koinobiont subfamily, allow the host to develop while the wasp larvae develop and feed. As the parasite larvae eat, fewer families employ the idiobiont method and stunt the host’s development and mobility.
Gall midges and other flies, as well as beetles, are parasitized by them. The koinobiont strategy is used by several subfamilies, which allows the host to develop while the wasp larvae develop and feed. While the parasite larvae eat, fewer families employ the idiobiont technique and stunt the host’s development and mobility.
In its natural range, one species, Aphanomerus pusillus, has the potential to be used as a biological control. The pandanus planthopper, the insect’s host, has gotten out of hand. In coastal New South Wales and Queensland, it is destroying native screwpine populations.
10. Mymaridae – Fairy wasps
The world’s smallest known insects are fairy wasps. Chalcidoidea superfamily contains 1,400 species. In the southern hemisphere, they can be found in tropical and temperate zones with more variety.
Aquatic species exist in a few different forms. In ponds and streams, they use their wings as paddles. They climb plant stems in order to break the water surface tension and emerge.
Is there a tiny insect that is known? Dicopomorpha echmepterygis is a single-cell paramecium that grows to 0.139 mm in size. Kikiki huna, the world’s tiniest known flying insect, is just 0.15 mm long.
The smallest known insect is how small? Dicopomorpha echmepterygis is a single-celled paramecium that grows to 0.139 mm in size. Kikiki huna, the world’s tiniest known flying insect, is just 0.15 mm long.
Black, brown, or yellow are the most common colors of fairy wasps. Some have feather-like wings, while others have wingless or are wingless. Full-sized wings are lacking in species that live in windy, exposed areas and females that seek for host eggs in soil litter.
11. Chrysididae – Cuckoo or jewel wasps
The Chrysidoidea superfamily of wasps has distinctive colors that set it apart. Some of their gemstone-based names come from their vivid metallic colors.
Chrysidids are a group of 3,000 species that prefer dry environments. A smaller habitat, such as sand surfaces or dead wood, is preferred by each species.
Like cuckoo birds, they utilize solitary bees and wasps as hosts. Cuckoos are the parents of the planted offspring, and they ostracize the young of another species. Kleptoparasitism, sometimes known as brood parasitism, is the term for this strategy.
The host’s nest is used by cuckoo wasps to lay eggs. The eggs or larvae of the host are then consumed by the young. The wasp will be given baby after that. Certain species have the ability to generate odors that mimic those of the host.
12. Vespidae – Potter, pollen, and paper wasps, yellow jackets, hornets
The wasp you’re most familiar with is Vespidae. Potter wasps, paper wasps, and yellow jackets are just a few of the 5,000 species in the Vespiodea superfamily.
This family contains nearly all social and many solitary species. Pollinators and pest predators are also members of the family.
During construction, several species create colonies by mixing soil and water. Since their mud nests are visible on the sides of buildings and bridges, Potter wasps are most well-known for it.
Plant materials will be combined by paper wasps and Vespines like yellowjackets and hornets, resulting in a paper-like habitat. These two subfamilies contain only social species.
13. Mutillidae – Velvet ants
Are these wasps or ants? The Pompiloidea superfamily encompasses these 8,000 species. Females of these insects resemble ants and grow up to 30 mm long.
Are they wasps or ants? The Pompiloidea superfamily encompasses 8,000 species. Their females are ant-like and grow to be 6 to 30 mm long.
Are they wasps or ants that are velvet? The Pompiloidea superfamily encompasses 8,000 species. Females of these beetles look like ants and grow to be 6 to 30 mm long.
The fur and its warning function were selected by each species. The family is thought to be the world’s biggest Mullerian mimicry complex, according to scientists. All velvet ants pose a threat, and as a group, they condition predators to leave them alone.
14. Scoliidae – Scoliid wasps
Scoliid wasps are 560 species in the Scolioidea superfamily.
Megascolia procer, a scoliid wasp, is one of them. It has a wingspan of 11 cm and is one of the world’s longest wasps. The family, on the other hand, averages 10 to 50 mm.
A female scoliidae will stinger a scarab and then hide it underground. After that, they dig a new chamber and place the beetle in it before laying eggs, which they discovered beside where they found the beetle.
Several wildflowers are pollinated by Scoliids. Orchids that look like wasps trick wasps as well. Males attempt to mate with the blossom and are pollenated as a result.
15. Mymarommatidae – False fairy wasps
The Mymarommatoidea superfamily contains only false wasps. They were thought to be fairy wasps for a long time. They have a lot in common, yet they are most likely distinct creatures.
False fairy wasps are a mystery to scientists. They’re tiny, measuring between 0.4 and 0.7 mm when they’re born. Yet, ten species have been identified, the majority of which are fossils.
So-called “living fossils” because they are most closely related to an extinct family.
16. Crabronidae – Sand wasps or mud daubers
The Apoidea superfamily includes the 9,000 Crabronid species. Until molecular genetics proved how distant their relationships are, many of these species were classified as members of the Sphecidae family. Several subfamily families are considered independent.
In the care of their young, the family takes a different approach. Instead of laying eggs in a roaming host, the adults deposit prey at a nest and then lay their eggs. They also adopt the cuckoo strategy of raising their offspring in a host species’s nest.
There are 1,000 species of aphid wasps.
17. Thynnidae – Thynnid wasps
The Thynnoidea superfamily encompasses the Thynnids. They specialize in parasitizing scarabs, which have over 35,000 species worldwide. The wasps assist to control beetle populations that are pests.
The length of thynnids ranges from 30 to 40 mm. Adults like to feed on nectar, which helps them pollinate flowers while they are feeding.
Up to 30 mm long, thynnids are a large invertebrate. Adults like to nectar-feed, which assists in pollination of flowers.
Since they spend the majority of their lives on the ground, lacking wings, some females are wingless. Female wingless dragon will be substantially smaller than males. Nonetheless, winged ladies will seem to be virtually indistinguishable from males.
Since they spend the majority of their lives wandering on the ground, some females are wingless. Female dragonflies will be much smaller than male dragonflies. However, winged females and males will seem to be nearly identical.
18. Tiphiidae – Tiphiid wasps
Thynnids used to be part of the Tiphiidae family. Similar characteristics individually developed in molecular genetics laboratories. In dryer ecosystems such as deserts and grasslands, they grow anywhere from 3 to 35 mm.
Tiphid wasps, like Thynnids, prefer scarab beetles as hosts. The larvae of several females lack wings and instead eat from the outside, as do the adults. Most wasps are endoparasites, but Tiphiid and Thynnid wereps are ectoparasites.
Researchers use lights to capture males for museum collections since they fly at night. There aren’t that many females who are collected. They stay beneath the ground in ant-like shapes, or they are active at different hours by working beneath the cover of plant debris.
More on The Wasps and Their Natural History
Anatomy of Wasps
The head, mesosoma, and metasoma make up the body’s core. The upper torso is referred to as a mesosoma, which is joined with an abdomen segment. The remainder of the abdomen is the metasoma. A petiole, which is similar to the petiole or stem of a leaf, is a narrow waist.
The number of segments in the antennae or the vein pattern on the wings may be used to identify similar species.
An ovipositor is a tube used by mother wasps. Where they need to go, it injects paralysis venom and their eggs.
Life Cycle of Wasps
Insects follow the wasp life cycle. They go from eggs to larvae, then pupae, and finally adults.
The adaptation of the ovipositor for a parasitoid lifestyle is what makes wasps unique. The tube’s length is optimized to allow the mother to lay her eggs. A probe that extends beyond the dead host in the open is required to access a host’s nest from outside.
To keep the host from fleeing or developing, Idiobionts use venom. The host was allowed to continue to grow and develop thanks to Koinobionts. After the larvae consume their fill, pupate, and depart, the host will die either way weeks later.
Fertilized eggs produce females, while unfertilized eggs produce males in social species.
What Does Wasps’ Diet Consist of?
Parasitoids make up almost all wasps. The insects that were placed on or in by their mother are consumed by wasp larvae. A handful of tactics will be used by different families and even species within families to feed their young.
Eating is the most popular strategy:
- The wasp larvae developed inside an adult bug.
- The eggs of the host, from the inside.
- From the outside, acting as a nestmate to the host larva.
Less common diets involve eating:
- The wasp larvae emerged from an adult insect.
- The wasp larvae are fed by a host larva who thinks they are their own..
- Larvae fed by an actual parent.
Adult diets, on the other hand, are more varied. They’ll help with pollination and are mostly attracted to nectar and fruit. Some wasps, such as other wasps, hunt spiders and insects.
Natural Predators of Wasps
Wasp insects attract a diverse range of creatures. Wasps, spiders of many kinds, birds, rats, mantises, and lizards all attempt to devour them. Aquatic wasps may be a target for fish. Predators will attempt to get away with it if they believe they can. Trying, not having a dependable meal, is the essence of hunting wasps.
The tarantula hawk wasp, which is one of the world’s longest wasps, is the only predator of Roadrunners. Hornets have been devoured by buzzards.
The world’s longest wasps, tarantula hawk wasps, are only prey for roadrunners. Hornets have been targeted byBuzzards.
Many predators may be found among the non-stinging wasps. Scientists have yet to figure out the complete ecology of these wasps, including predators. Nonetheless, whatever may find them will want to devour them.
Habitat, migration, and range of the different types of wasps
Wasps may be found all over the world, including at the poles. Others focus on deserts, whereas others concentrate on marshy and wooded regions.
Wasps may be found across the globe, including at the poles. Others stick to deserts, while others specialize in marshy and wooded regions.
The majority of families have a worldwide range. Some species may be found all over the globe, while others will focus. In new regions, some hornets have become invasive. Others, such as ichneumonids, aid in the fight against invasive species.
Ecological Roles of Wasps: Types of Parasitism
Parasitoids predominate over wasps.
For their young to consume, parasitoids place eggs on or inside other animals. Parasites don’t kill their host, so they aren’t parasites. Parasitoids, unlike predators, consistently kill their prey.
Wasps may parasitize in a variety of ways.
When a wasp mother lays her egg in another insect’s nest, it is referred to as Kleptoparasitism.
The other young are often consumed by wasp larvae. The living larvae are then offered food by the host parents, who believe they are their own. Some wasps grow large enough to devour the host parent, for good measure.
Ecological Roles of Wasps: Predation and Pollination
A few predatory wasps belong to the Vespid family. They kill and consume the animals they hunt. After that, many of the adults will return to the nest to regurgitate food for their larvae.
Pollination is assisted by a few wasps. They have the same sweet tooth as bees, but they don’t have pollen hairs. Pollen basket bees have, but these bees don’t. However, there are some families that contribute. The fig wasps, for example, are the only pollinators of 1,000 fig species.
Aposematism and Mimicry of Wasps
To scare predators, many wasps use aposematic coloration and mimicry.
When an animal has unusual colors that are conspicuous to its species, it is said to be aposematic.
A good example is velvet ants, which are wasps despite their name. Several of the insect’s species have beautiful hides on their backs and are among the world’s most painful stings.
No one practices Batesian mimicry since wasps are good at fending for themselves. To deter predators, a harmless animal might mimic a dangerous one. Wasps are used by many flies, ants, and beetles to impersonate Bates.
Humans and Wasps
Cultural Symbolism of Wasps
The social Vespid wasps that most people notice are the source of wasp symbolism. They are fearless when it comes to organizing themselves, speaking, constructing huge residences, and protecting them. What enables a society or family to persist is represented by these characteristics.
Aggression is another factor to consider. A wasp doesn’t care if we don’t know why they were attacked; it just wants to sting them. As a result, we consider wasps to be predators.
When we refer to a person as a wasp, we mean that they are quick to pursue their goals, even if it means being unpleasant.
Biological control of Wasps
Ichneumonidae and fairy wasp parasitize invaders and invasive species, for example. They constrain the growth of certain invasive species in natural environments, preventing them from outcompeting native species. Scientists are working to encourage wasps to attack agricultural pests more.
Fun Facts About Types of Wasps
In Numbers, you’ll find facts and statistics about wasps.
The Asian giant hornet is the world’s biggest wasp. The hornet has a 45 mm or 1-¾ inch body length and a 75 mm or 3-inch wingspan.
The fairy wasps, the world’s smallest wasps, are likewise the world’s tiniest insects. They’ve been found to be as tiny as 0.139 mm.
The most diverse animal family, by the number of species, is undoubtedly the most common. If all 25,000 species in the Ichneumonidae family are discovered, there will be a potential 100,000 species.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are bees, ants, and wasps different?
In comparison to the fuzzy and rounder bee, wasps have smooth and narrower bodies. When bees are the pollinators, wasps are almost entirely parasitoids.
Without a magnifying glass, it’s impossible to tell the difference between ant differences. Their antennae have elbows, while their petioles or waists have two segments. The petiole of bees and wasps has straight or gently curved antennae, with no segments.
How are hornets different from wasps?
Wasp species include the Hornets. Because to their size and aggressiveness, we typically refer to them as a different category than other dangerous wasps. Because of their stings, Hornets are also more likely to induce anaphylactic shock.
Why are wasps more aggressive in the late summer and fall?
At this time, wasps who live in colonies cease to produce. During the queen’s escape over winter, the workers usually perish. Workers had been extra cautious of the queen until then. They’ll seek out additional prey and, if they can find anything delicious, want a complete dessert.