Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hymenoptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults small to medium sized; 6–12 mm long. Solitary insects.

Head. Eyes ovate and not emarginate. Antennal segments (10–)12 (females), or (10–)13 (males). Antennae geniculate, or not geniculate.

Thorax. Thorax orange-red or black. Thorax of the wingless females with distinct segmentation dorsally. Pronotum long, extending back to the tegulae. The spiracle cover lobe of the pronotum margined with close fine hairs. Mesopleuron without a suture. Cenchri absent. Wings present (males), or absent (some females); not folding longitudinally. Fore-wings with a conspicuous pterostigma; with the venation well developed. Closed fore-wing cells 6–10. Submarginal cells 1–3. Hind-wings with closed cells; of winged forms with a notched ‘jugal’ lobe. Fore femur not noticeably dilated. Hind femur without a well defined trochantellus. Hind tibiae without specialised spurs.

Abdomen. The abdomen with a marked basal constriction; long petiolate to short-waisted. The ‘waist’ with scales or nodes (in the wingless female Methoca ichneumonoides), or simple. Visible abdominal segments 6 (females), or 7 (males). The gaster colour-patterned; black-and-orange or black, yellow and red or orange. Ovipositor of females not visibly protruding; modified as a retractable sting.

Larvae. Larvae legless or the legs vestigial; socially parasitic on hosts selected by the mother and predacious (Myrmosa parasitising ground nesting Aculeates), or feeding on prey collected and stored by the adults (on beetle larvae, with with Methoca specialising on cicindelids).

General comments. By contrast with Mutillidae, the hind-wings of the males exhibit a notched jugal (and often anal) lobe, the thorax of wingless females is distinctly segmented.

British representation. Species in Britain 4; Methocha, Myrmosa and Tiphia.

Classification. Suborder Apocrita; Series Aculeata; Superfamily Scolioidea.

Illustrations. • Methoca ichneumonoides (B. Ent. 329). • Methoca ichneumonoides (detail: B. Ent. 329). • Methoca ichneumonoides (dissections: B. Ent. 329). • Methoca ichneumonoides: B. Ent. 329, legend+text. • Methoca ichneumonoides: B. Ent. 329, text cont.. • Tiphia minuta: B. Ent. 664. • Tiphia minuta: B. Ent. 664, legend+text. • Tiphia minuta: B. Ent. 664, text cont.. • Myrmosa atra (detail): Saunders VII. • Tiphia femorata (Saunders VIII).

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.’.