Overview

Comprehensive Description

Sphecidae (Sphecid Wasps)
This is a large and varied assortment of solitary wasps consisting of several families. When at rest, the wings of these wasps do not appear pleated (unlike Vespid wasps). They all possess stingers, which are used for self-defense and to paralyze prey. Sphecid wasps visit many kinds of wildflowers. Astatinae (Astatinine Wasps): These wasps prey on stinkbugs; they are not common flower visitors. Bembicinae (Sand Wasps): These stout wasps dig burrows in loose soil, and often nest gregariously. They are yellowish or tan wasps with brown or black markings, particularly on the abdomen. They prey on flies, small bees, plant bugs, or caterpillars. One species, Sphecius speciosus, preys on cicadas and is known as the "Cicada Killer." Crabroninae (Crabronine Wasps): These wasps usually prey on flies, although some prey on plant bugs. Important groups include Anacrabro spp., Crabro spp., Ectemnius spp., and Oxybelus spp. Larrinae (Larrine Wasps): Important groups in this family are Tachytes and Tachysphex spp. (Sand-Loving wasps), which prey on grasshoppers, and Ancistromma spp., which prey on crickets. Many of these species favor open sandy areas, and dig extensive burrows for the brood cells. Philanthinae (Philanthine Wasps, Bee Wolves Beetle Wasps): The Philanthus spp. are black with yellow markings, and are called "Bee Wolves." They attack worker bees (often Halictid bees), which they paralyze and carry back to the nest. Another important group consists of the Cerceris and Eucerceris spp., which attack the larvae of various weevils and beetles. They are large-sized, brown, with cream markings or stripes, and dig nests in the ground around their prey. Sphecinae (Sphecine Wasps): These wasps are small to large-sized, black, brown, or blue, with white or yellow markings. They usually construct nests underground, but some species make tunnel-like mud nests, which are affixed to rocks, buildings, and other protected places. Important groups are the slender Ammophila spp. (Thread-Waisted Wasps), which prey on moth and sawfly larvae; Chlorion spp. (Cricket-Hunter Wasps), which prey on crickets; Sceliphron spp. (Mud Daubers), which prey on spiders; and Prionyx and Sphex spp. (Digger Wasps), which prey on grasshoppers. An example of the latter is Sphex ichneumonea (Great Golden Digger Wasp).

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Ecology

Associations

Animal / associate
larva of Amobia signata is associated with nest of Sphecidae

Animal / associate
larva of Macronychia griseola is associated with nest of Sphecidae

Animal / associate
larva of Macronychia polyodon is associated with nest of Sphecidae

Animal / associate
larva of Metopia argyrocephala is associated with nest of Sphecidae

Animal / associate
larva of Metopia campestris is associated with nest of Sphecidae

Animal / associate
larva of Oebalia cylindrica is associated with nest of Sphecidae
Other: sole host/prey

Animal / associate
larva of Oebalia minuta is associated with nest of Sphecidae
Other: sole host/prey

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Animal / kleptoparasite
larva of Pseudomalus violaceus kleptoparasitises food store of Sphecidae

Plant / resting place / on
ovum of Senotainia conica may be found on prey-carrying female of Sphecidae
Other: sole host/prey

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
                                        
Specimen Records:923Public Records:62
Specimens with Sequences:683Public Species:52
Specimens with Barcodes:617Public BINs:53
Species:170         
Species With Barcodes:137         
          
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Barcode data

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Locations of barcode samples

Collection Sites: world map showing specimen collection locations for Sphecidae

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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Wikipedia

Sphecidae

The Sphecidae are a cosmopolitan family of wasps that includes digger wasps, mud daubers, and other familiar types that all fall under the category of thread-waisted wasps. Both of the traditional definitions of the Sphecidae (the conservative one, where all the sphecoid wasps other than ampulicids and heterogynaids were in a single large family, and the more refined one, where the seven large sphecid subfamilies were each elevated to family rank) have recently been shown to be paraphyletic, and the most recent classification is closer to the conservative scheme; the families Heterogynaidae and Ampulicidae are the sister taxa to what are now two families (instead of one), the Sphecidae and Crabronidae. Thus, the bulk of the sphecoid wasps are now placed in Crabronidae, and the Sphecidae per se are much more restricted in concept, equivalent to what used to be the subfamily Sphecinae.

The biology of the Sphecidae, even under the restricted definition, is still fairly diverse; some sceliphrines even display rudimentary forms of sociality, and some sphecines rear multiple larvae in a single large brood cell. Many nest in pre-existing cavities, or dig simple burrows in the soil, but some species construct free-standing nests of mud and even (in one genus) resin. All are predatory, but the type of prey ranges from spiders to various dictyopterans or orthopteroids to caterpillars (of either Lepidoptera or other Hymenoptera); the vast majority practice mass provisioning, providing all the prey items prior to laying the egg.

Subgroups[edit]

Subfamily Ammophilinae

Subfamily Chloriontinae

Subfamily Sceliphrinae

Subfamily Sphecinae

Sphecid blocking its burrow with a stone
Sphecid carrying a caterpillar

References[edit]

Goulet, H., Huber, J.T. (1993) Hymenoptera of the World. Agriculture Canada Research Branch, publication 1894/E. 668pp.

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