Brief Summary

    Hymenoptera Overview
    provided by EOL authors

    Order Hymenoptera is one of the largest insect orders and contains sawflies, bees, wasps, parasitic wasps, and ants.They can be found throughout the world.They have compound eyes, antennae, and usually include three ocelli (simple eyes). Eusociality can be seen in many species, especially bees.The bees have a ‘caste’ system of varying levels, with worker bees that defend and gather food for the colony. Bees help pollinate crops and many other Hymenoptera species feed on insect pests. The eusocial species are sexually dimorphic and exhibit polymorphism. They undergo complete metamorphosis (holometabolism).The grub-like larvae typically feed on leaves.Some species have two pairs of membranous wings and mandibles for chewing.The hind wings have small hooks called hamuli that connect to the front wings.Hymenoptera can be seen in the fossil record as far back as the Triassic.

    Hymenoptera: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    Hymenoptera is a large order of insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants. Over 150,000 living species of Hymenoptera have been described, in addition to over 2,000 extinct ones.

    Females typically have a special ovipositor for inserting eggs into hosts or places that are otherwise inaccessible. The ovipositor is often modified into a stinger. The young develop through holometabolism (complete metamorphosis)—that is, they have a worm-like larval stage and an inactive pupal stage before they mature.

    Brief Summary
    provided by Catalog of Hymenoptera in America North of Mexico
    The Hymenoptera is one of the largest orders of insects with more than 20,000 species in America north of Mexico, most of which are beneficial and many of which are of considerable economic importance to agriculture and forestry either as parasites or predators of pests or as pollinators of more than 100 commercially grown crops. Among the relatively few injurious Hymenoptera are the sawflies, some of which are serious defoliators or stem-borers of trees or crops.
    Brief Summary
    provided by EOL authors

    Hymenoptera is one of the four large insect orders exceeding 100,000 species in the world, the other major orders being Coleoptera, Lepidoptera and Diptera (Gauld and Bolton 1988, Goulet and Huber 1993). The Hymenoptera order contains about 115,000 described species and authors estimated that there are between 300,000 and 3,000,000 species of Hymenoptera (Gaston 1991), possibly around 1,000,000 (Sharkey 2007). These estimates mean that only 1/10 has been described so far and 9/10 awaits description. However, the number of Hymenoptera species is difficult to estimate with accuracy, as most of the mega diverse regions of the world have not been extensively studied and inventoried regarding this group (LaSalle and Gauld 1993).

    Hymenoptera have been traditionally subdivided into three assemblages (the paraphyletic sub-order Symphyta and the monophyletic Aculeata and Parasitica belonging to the sub-order Apocrita). Each group exhibits different biology. ‘Symphyta’ are mostly phytophagous and are the most primitive members of the order. Parasitica are mainly parasitic species but some of them have returned secondarily to phytophagy, while Aculeata encompass a larger spectrum (predators, pollinators, parasitoids); all eusocial hymenoptera belong to this last group.

    Members of the Hymenoptera are familiar to a general audience and common names exist for a large variety of groups: “wasps”, “bees”, “ants”, “bumblebees”, “sawflies”, “parasitic wasps”. Hymenoptera adult sizes range from the very small Mymaridae (0.5 mm) to the large aculeate wasps (up to 5 cm long in Europe). This group of mandibulate insects is well defined by the combination of several characters: they have two pairs of functional wings (with the exception of apterous species) bearing fewer veins than most other insect groups and rarely more than seven cross veins. The abdominal tergum 1 is fused to the metanotum and in most Hymenoptera the metasoma (apparent gaster) is joined to the mesosoma (apparent thorax) by a petiole.

    Ecologically and economically few groups of insects are as important to mankind as the Hymenoptera. Bees provide the vital ecosystem service of pollination in both natural and managed systems (Gallai et al. 2009) while parasitic Hymenoptera control populations of phytophagous insects (Tscharntke et al. 2007) and can be effective agents for control of pest insects (Bale et al. 2008, Brodeur and Boivin 2004, Jonsson et al. 2008). Some of the phytophagous hymenoptera have an intimate association with their hostplants (Nyman et al. 2006) and can also be considered as major pests to forests (e.g. Diprionidae) (De Somviele et al. 2004, Lyytikainen-Saarenmaa and Tomppo 2002). Ant invasions cause huge economic and ecological costs (Holway 2002, Lach and Thomas 2008) and Hymenoptera stings, specifically those of wasps, hornets and bees cause serious allergic reactions and anaphylaxis (Flabbee et al. 2008, Klotz et al. 2009).

Comprehensive Description

    provided by wikipedia

    Hymenoptera is a large order of insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants. Over 150,000 living species of Hymenoptera have been described,[2][3] in addition to over 2,000 extinct ones.[4]

    Females typically have a special ovipositor for inserting eggs into hosts or places that are otherwise inaccessible. The ovipositor is often modified into a stinger. The young develop through holometabolism (complete metamorphosis)—that is, they have a worm-like larval stage and an inactive pupal stage before they mature.


    The name Hymenoptera refers to the wings of the insects, but the original derivation is ambiguous.[5]:42 All references agree that the derivation involves the Ancient Greek πτερόν (pteron) for wing. The Ancient Greek ὑμήν (hymen) for membrane provides a plausible etymology for the term because species in this order have membranous wings. However, a key characteristic of this order is that the hind wings are connected to the fore wings by a series of hooks. Thus, another plausible etymology involves Hymen, the Ancient Greek god of marriage, as these insects have "married wings" in flight.


    The cladogram of external relationships, based on a 2008 DNA and protein analysis, shows the order as a clade, most closely related to endopterygote orders including the Diptera (true flies) and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths).[6][7][8][9] .mw-parser-output table.clade{border-spacing:0;margin:0;font-size:100%;line-height:100%;border-collapse:separate;width:auto}.mw-parser-output table.clade table.clade{width:100%}.mw-parser-output table.clade td{border:0;padding:0;vertical-align:middle;text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-label{width:0.8em;border:0;padding:0 0.2em;vertical-align:bottom;text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-slabel{border:0;padding:0 0.2em;vertical-align:top;text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-bar{vertical-align:middle;text-align:left;padding:0 0.5em}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-leaf{border:0;padding:0;text-align:left;vertical-align:middle}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-leafR{border:0;padding:0;text-align:right}

    part of Endopterygota   Antliophora  

    Diptera (true flies) Common house fly, Musca domestica.jpg


    Mecoptera (scorpionflies) Gunzesrieder Tal Insekt 3.jpg


    Boreidae (snow scorpionflies) Boreus hiemalis2 detail.jpg


    Siphonaptera (fleas) Pulex irritans female ZSM.jpg


    Trichoptera (caddisflies) Sericostoma.personatum.jpg


    Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) Tyria jacobaeae-lo.jpg


    Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, ants, bees) AD2009Sep09 Vespula germanica 03.jpg


    Hymenoptera originated in the Triassic, with the oldest fossils belonging to the family Xyelidae. Social hymenopterans appeared during the Cretaceous.[10] The evolution of this group has been intensively studied by Alex Rasnitsyn, Michael S. Engel, and others.

    This clade has been studied by examining the mitochondrial DNA.[11] Although this study was unable to resolve all the ambiguities in this clade, some relationships could be established. The Aculeata, Ichneumonomorpha, and Proctotrupomorpha were monophyletic. The Megalyroidea and Trigonalyoidea are sister clades as are the Chalcidoidea+Diaprioidea. The Cynipoidea was generally recovered as the sister group to Chalcidoidea and Diaprioidea which are each other's closest relations.

    The cladogram is based on Schulmeister 2003.[12][13]

    Hymenoptera Hymenoptera, 250mya  

    Xyeloidea (Triassic-present) Xyelapusilla.jpg


    Tenthredinoidea Diprionpini crop.jpg


    Pamphilioidea Caenolyda reticulata.jpg


    Cephoidea (stem sawflies) Hartigia linearis.jpg


    Siricoidea (horntails or wood wasps) Hymenoptera Vielfalt Horntail.jpg


    Xiphydrioidea (wood wasps) Xiphydria prolongata crop.jpg


    Orussoidea (parasitic wood wasps) Orussus coronatus.jpg

      "wasp waist" 200mya

    APOCRITA (ants, bees, wasps) Specimen of Podalonia tydei (Le Guillou, 1841).jpg

                    Symphyta (red bar) are paraphyletic as Apocrita are excluded.


    Bombus muscorum drinking nectar with its long proboscis

    Hymenopterans range in size from very small to large insects, and usually have two pairs of wings. Their mouthparts are adapted for chewing, with well-developed mandibles (ectognathous mouthparts). Many species have further developed the mouthparts into a lengthy proboscis, with which they can drink liquids, such as nectar. They have large compound eyes, and typically three simple eyes, ocelli.

    The forward margin of the hind wing bears a number of hooked bristles, or "hamuli", which lock onto the fore wing, keeping them held together. The smaller species may have only two or three hamuli on each side, but the largest wasps may have a considerable number, keeping the wings gripped together especially tightly. Hymenopteran wings have relatively few veins compared with many other insects, especially in the smaller species.

    In the more ancestral hymenopterans, the ovipositor is blade-like, and has evolved for slicing plant tissues. In the majority, however, it is modified for piercing, and, in some cases, is several times the length of the body. In some species, the ovipositor has become modified as a stinger, and the eggs are laid from the base of the structure, rather than from the tip, which is used only to inject venom. The sting is typically used to immobilise prey, but in some wasps and bees may be used in defense.[14]

    Hymenopteran larvae typically have a distinct head region, three thoracic segments, and usually nine or 10 abdominal segments. In the suborder Symphyta, the larvae resemble caterpillars in appearance, and like them, typically feed on leaves. They have large chewing mandibles, three pairs of thoracic limbs, and, in most cases, six or eight abdominal prolegs. Unlike caterpillars, however, the prolegs have no grasping spines, and the antennae are reduced to mere stubs. Symphytan larvae that are wood borers or stem borers have no abdominal legs and the thoracic legs are smaller than those of non-borers.

    With rare exceptions larvae of the suborder Apocrita have no legs and are maggotlike in form, and are adapted to life in a protected environment. This may be the body of a host organism, or a cell in a nest, where the adults will care for the larva. In parasitic forms, the head is often greatly reduced and partially withdrawn into the prothorax (anterior part of the thorax). Sense organs appear to be poorly developed, with no ocelli, very small or absent antennae, and toothlike, sicklelike, or spinelike mandibles. They are also unable to defecate until they reach adulthood due to having an incomplete digestive tract (a blind sac), presumably to avoid contaminating their environment.[14] The larvae of stinging forms (Aculeata) generally have 10 pairs of spiracles, or breathing pores, whereas parasitic forms usually have nine pairs present.[15]


    Sex determination

    Among most or all hymenopterans, sex is determined by the number of chromosomes an individual possesses.[16] Fertilized eggs get two sets of chromosomes (one from each parent's respective gametes) and develop into diploid females, while unfertilized eggs only contain one set (from the mother) and develop into haploid males. The act of fertilization is under the voluntary control of the egg-laying female, giving her control of the sex of her offspring.[14] This phenomenon is called haplodiploidy.

    However, the actual genetic mechanisms of haplodiploid sex determination may be more complex than simple chromosome number. In many Hymenoptera, sex is actually determined by a single gene locus with many alleles.[16] In these species, haploids are male and diploids heterozygous at the sex locus are female, but occasionally a diploid will be homozygous at the sex locus and develop as a male, instead. This is especially likely to occur in an individual whose parents were siblings or other close relatives. Diploid males are known to be produced by inbreeding in many ant, bee, and wasp species. Diploid biparental males are usually sterile but a few species that have fertile diploid males are known.[17]

    One consequence of haplodiploidy is that females on average actually have more genes in common with their sisters than they do with their own daughters. Because of this, cooperation among kindred females may be unusually advantageous, and has been hypothesized to contribute to the multiple origins of eusociality within this order.[14] In many colonies of bees, ants, and wasps, worker females will remove eggs laid by other workers due to increased relatedness to direct siblings, a phenomenon known as worker policing.[18]

    Another consequence is that hymenopterans may be more resistant to the deleterious effects of inbreeding. As males are haploid, any recessive genes will automatically be expressed, exposing them to natural selection. Thus, the genetic load of deleterious genes is purged relatively quickly.[19]


    Main article: Thelytoky

    Some hymenopterans take advantage of parthenogenesis, the creation of embryos without fertilization. Thelytoky is a particular form of parthenogenesis in which female embryos are created (without fertilisation). The form of thelytoky in hymenopterans is a kind of automixis in which two haploid products (proto-eggs) from the same meiosis fuse to form a diploid zygote. This process tends to maintain heterozygosity in the passage of the genome from mother to daughter. It is found in several ant species including the desert ant Cataglyphis cursor,[20] the clonal raider ant Cerapachys biroi,[21] the predaceous ant Platythyrea punctata,[22] and the electric ant (little fire ant) Wasmannia auropunctata.[23] It also occurs in the Cape honey bee Apis mellifera capensis.[24]

    Oocytes that undergo automixis with central fusion often have a reduced rate of crossover recombination, which helps to maintain heterozygosity and avoid inbreeding depression. Species that display central fusion with reduced recombination include the ants Platythyrea punctata[22] and Wasmannia auropunctata[23] and the honey bee Apis mellifera capensis.[24] In A. m. capensis, the recombination rate during meiosis is reduced more than 10 fold.[24] In W. auropunctata the reduction is 45 fold.[23]

    Single queen colonies of the narrow headed ant Formica exsecta illustrate the possible deleterious effects of increased homozygosity. Colonies of this species which have more homozygous queens will age more rapidly, resulting in reduced colony survival.[25]


    Different species of Hymenoptera show a wide range of feeding habits. The most primitive forms are typically herbivorous, feeding on leaves or pine needles. Stinging wasps are predators, and will provision their larvae with immobilised prey, while bees feed on nectar and pollen.

    Main article: Parasitoid wasp

    A huge number of species are parasitoids as larvae. The adults inject the eggs into a host, which they begin to consume after hatching. For example, the eggs of the endangered Papilio homerus are parasitized at a rate of 77%, mainly by Hymenoptera species.[26] Some species are even hyperparasitoid, with the host itself being another parasitoid insect. Habits intermediate between those of the herbivorous and parasitoid forms are shown in some hymenopterans, which inhabit the galls or nests of other insects, stealing their food, and eventually killing and eating the occupant.[14]


    Symphyta, without a waist: the sawfly Arge pagana
    Apocrita, with narrow waists: the wasp Vespula germanica

    The Hymenoptera are divided into two groups; the Symphyta which have no waist, and the Apocrita which have a narrow waist.[27]


    The suborder Symphyta includes the sawflies, horntails, and parasitic wood wasps. The group may be paraphyletic, as it has been suggested that the family Orussidae may be the group from which the Apocrita arose. They have an unconstricted junction between the thorax and abdomen. The larvae are herbivorous, free-living eruciforms, with three pairs of true legs, prolegs (on every segment, unlike Lepidoptera) and ocelli. The prolegs do not have crochet hooks at the ends unlike the larvae of the Lepidoptera.


    The wasps, bees, and ants together make up the suborder (and clade) Apocrita, characterized by a constriction between the first and second abdominal segments called a wasp-waist (petiole), also involving the fusion of the first abdominal segment to the thorax. Also, the larvae of all Apocrita lack legs, prolegs, or ocelli. The hindgut of the larvae also remains closed during development, with feces being stored inside the body, with the exception of some bee larvae where the larval anus has reappeared through developmental reversion. In general, the anus only opens at the completion of larval growth.

    See also


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Life Cycle

    Life Cycle
    provided by EOL authors

    Hymenoptera have two main larval types. ‘Symphyta’ have larvae that are caterpillar-like, but true caterpillars (Lepidoptera) have at most four pairs of prolegs (abdominal segments 3–6) while sawfly larvae have at least five pairs of prolegs (abdominal segments 2–6). Furthermore the prolegs of Symphyta do not bear crochets, whereas those of Lepidoptera larvae do. ‘Apocrita’ have legless grub-like larvae that are nearly featureless unless they have a differentiated head (Goulet and Huber 1993). All Hymenoptera have haplodiploid sex determination (haploid males and diploid females). Arrhenotoky is the most common mode of reproduction in Hymenoptera (Heimpel and de Boer 2008). The males develop parthenogenetically from unfertilised eggs while the females develop from fertilised eggs. Females can control fertilisation by releasing sperm to an egg upon oviposition, and can thus adjust the sex-ratio of their progeny.