Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hymenoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Digger Wasps.

Adults small to large; (2.5–)5–22 mm long; sparsely hairy; with only simple hairs on the body. Solitary insects.

Head. Eyes emarginate (e.g., Trypoxylon), or ovate and not emarginate. Antennal segments (10–)12 (females), or (10–)13 (males). Antennae geniculate, or not geniculate. Tongue longer than the prementum, or shorter than the prementum; often bifid.

Thorax. Thorax black, grey or black-and-yellow. Pronotum more or less straight at the back; short, not extending back to the tegulae. Cenchri absent. Wings present. Fore-wings with a conspicuous pterostigma, or without a pterostigma; with the venation well developed (sometimes reduced apically). Closed fore-wing cells 6–10. Submarginal cells 1–3. Discoidal cells 0–2. Hind-wings with closed cells. Hind femur without a well defined trochantellus. Hind tibiae with spurs specialised for a cleaning rôle. Hind basitarsi not noticeably wider than the other segments.

Abdomen. The abdomen with a marked basal constriction; long petiolate (the petiole sometimes very long), or short-waisted. The ‘waist’ simple. Visible abdominal segments 6 (females), or 7 (males). The gaster concolorous, or colour-patterned; when concolorous, black or grey; when patterned, black-and-yellow, black-and-orange, or black, orange and white. Ovipositor of females not visibly protruding; modified as a retractable sting.

Larvae. Larvae legless or the legs vestigial; parasitic on hosts selected by the mother (rarely, on other wasps), or predacious, or feeding on prey collected and stored by the adults (mostly, victimising other arthropods, mostly specialising on particular species, and constituting important regulators of insect populations).

British representation. Species in Britain about 115; Alysson, Ammophila, Argogorytes, Astata, Cerceris, Crabro, Diodontus, Dinetus, Entomognathus, Ectemnius, Gorytes, Lestica, Lindenius, Mellinus, Nysson, Oxybelus, Passaloecus, Pemphredon, Philanthus, Podalonia, Psen, Psenulus, Rhopalum, Spilomena, Stigmus, Tachysphex, Trypoxylon (with Cerceris, Crossocerus, Diodontus, Ectemnius, Passaloecus and Psen all well represented).

Classification. Suborder Apocrita; Series Aculeata; Superfamily Sphecoidea.

Illustrations. • Psen bicolor: B. Ent. 25. • Psen bicolor (detail): B. Ent. 25. • Psen bicolor (dissections): B. Ent. 25. • Psen bicolor: B. Ent. 25, legend+text. • Psen bicolor: B. Ent. 25, legend+text. • Oxybelus argentatus Curtis (B. Ent 480). • Oxybelus argentatus (detail: B. Ent 480). • Oxybelus argentatus (dissections: B. Ent 480). • Oxybelus argentatus: B. Ent. 480, legend+text. • Oxybelus argentatus: B. Ent. 480, text cont.. • Astata victor Curtis (= A. boops): B. Ent. 261. • Astata victor Curtis: B. Ent. 261, legend+text. • Astata victor Curtis: B. Ent. 261, text cont.. • Cerceris arenaria (B. Ent. 269). • Cerceris arenaria: B. Ent. 269, legend+text. • Cerceris arenaria: B. Ent. 269, text cont.. • Crossocerus quadrimaculatus (Fab), as Crabro subpunctatus Rossi. B. Ent. 680. • Crossocerus quadrimaculatus (Fab), as Crabro subpunctatus Rossi. B. Ent. 680, legend+text. • Crossocerus quadrimaculatus (Fab), as Crabro subpunctatus Rossi. B. Ent. 680, text cont.. • cf. Didineis lunicornis, as Alyson kennedii Curtis. B. Ent. 584. • Alyson kennedii Curtis: B. Ent. 584, legend+text. • Alyson kennedii Curtis: B. Ent. 584, text cont.. • Gorytes bicinctus (B. Ent. 524). • Gorytes bicinctus: B. Ent. 524, legend+text. • Gorytes bicinctus: B. Ent. 524, text cont.. • Philanthus triangulum (B. Ent. 273). • Philanthus triangulum: B. Ent. 273, legend+text. • Philanthus triangulum: B. Ent. 273, text cont.. • Passaloecus gracilis (Curtis) (B. Ent. 496). • Passaloecus gracilis (B. Ent. 496, legend+text). • Passaloecus gracilis (B. Ent. 496, text cont.). • Mellinus sabulosa: B. Ent. 580. • Mellinus sabulosa: B. Ent. 580, legend+text. • Mellinus sabulosa: B. Ent. 580, text cont.. • Ammophila pubescens Curtis: B. Ent. 604. • Ammophila pubescens Curtis: B. Ent. 604, legend+text. • Ammophila pubescens Curtis: B. Ent. 604, text cont.. • Rhopalum coarctatum: B. Ent. 656. • Rhopalum coarctatum: B. Ent. 656, legend+text. • Rhopalum coarctatum: B. Ent. 656, text cont.. • Trypoxylon clavicerum: B. Ent. 652. • Trypoxylon clavicerum: B. Ent. 652, legend+text. • Trypoxylon clavicerum: B. Ent. 652, text cont.. • Astarta, Trypoxylon, Tachysphex (Saunders XI). • Ammophila, Podalonia, Psenulus, Tachysphex (Saunders XII). • Ammophila, Podalonia (detail: Saunders XII). • Diodontus, Passaloecus, Pemphredon, Spilonema, Stigmus (Saunders XIII). • Agorytes, Mimesa, Psen, Psenulus (Saunders XIV). • Alysson, Gorytes, Mellinus, Nysson (Saunders XV). • Cerceris, Corynopus, Crossocerus, Philanthus (Saunders XVI). • Crossocerus spp. (Saunders XVII). • Crossocerus and Crabro (Saunders XVIII). • Crossocerus, Entomognathus, Lestica, Lindenius, Oxybelus (Saunders XIX). • Dinetus pictus: Stephens 1846. • Ammophila campestris, male: as Miscus campestris, Stephens 1846.

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hymenoptera. Version: 16th May 2016.’.