The name Aculeata is used to refer to a monophyletic lineage of Hymenoptera. The word "Aculeata" is a reference to the defining feature of the group, which is the modification of the ovipositor into a stinger (thus, the group could be called stinging wasps). In other words, the structure that was originally used to lay eggs is modified instead to deliver venom. Not all members of the group can sting; in fact, a great many cannot, either because the ovipositor is modified in a different manner (such as for laying eggs in crevices), or because it is lost altogether. This group includes the bees and ants and all of the eusocial Hymenopterans; it is, in fact, commonly believed that the possession of a venomous sting was one of the important features promoting the evolution of social behavior, as it confers a level of anti-predator defense rarely approached by other invertebrates.
The use of the name Aculeata has a long history at the rank of infraorder or division, and it is only with the advent of modern phylogenetics that the higher classifications of insects (and other organisms) have come to reject artificial (paraphyletic) grouping categories. While the Aculeata is a good natural group, containing all the descendants of a single common ancestor, the supposed "other infraorder" of the Apocrita - the "Parasitica" or "Terebrantia" - is not a natural group, just as the "sawflies", the basal lineages of Hymenoptera, are not.
The Aculeata are therefore maintained as a taxon, either at infraorder or division rank or as an unranked clade. However, the "Parasitica" must be considered a paraphyletic assemblage; the taxon "Parasitica" is discarded and their interrelationships are subject of further study. Provisionally, they all can be treated as s uperfamilies incertae sedis in the Apocrita, without being placed in an infraorder. It is highly likely that at least some of these parasitic wasps - for example the Stephanoidea - are as closely related to the Aculeata as to other "Parasitica".
On the other hand, among the parasitic wasps the Ichneumonoidea seem particularly closely related to the Aculeata. If taxonomic ranks are used, it may therefore be best to treat the latter as a division and divide the Apocrita into some 6 infraorders representing lineages of about equal standing, one of which would unite the Aculeata and the Ichneumonoidea.
Note that having the same taxonomic rank does not imply equal evolutionary standing, whereas placement in the same higher-ranked taxon ideally does, or at least implies that regardless of what specific rank they have, the lower-ranked taxa are all part of the same evolutionary radiation. Therefore, would the Aculeata and the Ichneumonoidea be placed in an infraorder, the former would still be considered a division and the latter a superfamily. Despite having different ranks, they would be members of the same taxon and sister lineages.
- Tree of Life Web Project: Aculeata
The Series Aculeata is further organized into finer groupings including:
- Superfamily (3): Apoidea · Chrysidoidea · Vespoidea
- Family (35): Ampulicidae · Andrenidae · Angarosphecidae · Apidae · Armaniidae · Baissodidae · Bethylidae · Bethylonymidae · Bradynobaenidae · Chrysididae · Colletidae · Crabronidae · Dryinidae · Embolemidae · Falsiformicidae · Formicidae · Halictidae · Heterogynaidae · Limnetidae · Megachilidae · Melittid ae · Mutillidae · Paleomelittidae · Plumariidae · Pompilidae · Rhopalosomatidae · Sapygidae · Sclerogibbidae · Scolebythidae · Scoliidae · Sierolomorphidae · Sphecidae · Sphecomyrmidae · Tiphiidae · Vespidae
The Ampulicidae, or Cockroach wasps, is a small (approx. 200 species), primarily tropical group of sphecoid wasps, all of which use various cockroaches as prey items for their larvae. They tend to have elongated jaws, a pronounced neck-like constriction behind the head, a strongly petiolate abdomen, and deep grooves on the thorax. Many are quite ant-like in appearance, though some are brilliant metallic blue or green. [more]
The family Andrenidae is a large (nearly) cosmopolitan (absent in Australia) non-parasitic bee family, with most of the diversity in temperate and/or arid areas (warm temperate xeric), including some truly enormous genera (e.g., Andrena with over 1300 species, and Perdita with nearly 800). One of the subfamilies, Oxaeinae, are so different in appearance that they were typically accorded family status, but careful phylogenetic analysis reveals them to be an offshoot within the Andrenidae, very close to the Andreninae. [more]
The Apidae are a large family of bees, comprising the common honey bees, stingless bees (which are also cultured for honey), carpenter bees, orchid bees, cuckoo bees, bumblebees, and various other less well-known groups. The family Apidae presently includes all the genera that were previously classified in the families Anthophoridae and Ctenoplectridae, and most of these are solitary species, though a few are also cleptoparasites. The four groups that were subfamilies in the old family Apidae are presently ranked as tribes within the subfamily Apinae. This trend has been taken to its extreme in a few recent classifications that place all the existing bee families together under the name "Apidae" (or, alternatively, the non-Linnaean clade "Anthophila"), but this is not a widely-accepted practice. [more]
Bradynobaenidae is a family of wasps similar to the Mutillidae. These species are often found in arid regions. [more]
Commonly known as cuckoo wasps, the Hymenopteran family Chrysididae is a very large cosmopolitan group (over 3000 described species) of parasitoid or cleptoparasitic wasps, often highly sculptured, with brilliantly colored metallic-like bodies (thus the common names jewel wasp, gold wasp, or emerald wasp are sometimes used). They are most diverse in desert regions of the world, as they are typically associated with solitary bee and wasp species, which are also most diverse in such areas. [more]
Colletidae is a family of bees, and are often referred to collectively as plasterer bees or polyester bees, due to the method of smoothing the walls of their nest cells with secretions applied with their mouthparts; these secretions dry into a cellophane-like lining. There are 5 subfamilies, 54 genera, and over 2000 species, all of them evidently solitary, though many nest in aggregations. Two of the subfamilies, and Hylaeinae, lack the external pollen-carrying apparatus (the scopa) that otherwise characterizes most bees, and instead carry the pollen in their crop. These groups, and in fact most genera in this family, have liquid or semi-liquid pollen masses on which the larvae develop. [more]
Crabronidae is a large family of wasps, that includes nearly all of the species formerly comprising the now-defunct superfamily Sphecoidea. It collectively includes well over 200 genera, containing well over 9000 species. Crabronids were originally a part of Sphecidae, but the latter name is now restricted to a separate family based on what was once the subfamily Sphecinae. As this change is very recent, it seems likely that the subfamilies of Crabronidae will each eventually be treated as families in their own right, as they have been treated as such by many authorities in the past (as in the catalog linked below). [more]
Dryinidae is a family of hymenopteran insects with about 1,400 described species found worldwide. These are solitary wasps whose larvae are parasitoids on other insects. The only known hosts are Hemiptera, especially leafhoppers. [more]
Ants are social insects of the family Formicidae () and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 out of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and a distinctive node-like structure that forms a slender waist. [more]
Halictidae is a cosmopolitan family of the order Hymenoptera consisting of small (> 4 mm) to midsize (> 8 mm) bees which are usually dark-colored and often metallic in appearance. Several species are all or partly green and a few are red; a number of them have yellow markings, especially the males, which commonly possess yellow faces, a pattern widespread among the various families of bees. They are commonly referred to as sweat bees (especially the smaller species), as they are often attracted to perspiration; when pinched, females can give a minor sting. [more]
The Megachilidae are a cosmopolitan family of (mostly) solitary bees whose pollen-carrying structure (called a scopa) is restricted to the ventral surface of the abdomen (rather than mostly or exclusively on the hind legs as in other bee families). Megachilid genera are most commonly known as mason bees and leafcutter bees, reflecting the materials they build their nest cells from (soil or leaves, respectively); a few collect plant or animal hairs and fibers, and are called carder bees. All species feed on nectar and pollen, but a few are cleptoparasites (informally called "cuckoo bees"), feeding on pollen collected by other megachilid bees. Parasitic species do not possess a scopa. The brightly colored scopa leads to a colloquial name used occasionally in North America - "Jelly-belly bees." Megachilid bees are among the world's most efficient pollinators because of their energetic swimming-like motion in the reproductive structures of flowers, which moves pollen, as need ed for pollination. One of the reasons they are efficient pollinators is their frequency of visits to plants, but this is because they are extremely inefficient at gathering pollen; compared to all other bee families, megachilids require on average nearly ten times as many trips to flowers to gather sufficient resources to provision a single brood cell. [more]
The family Melittidae is a small bee family, with some 60 species in 4 genera, restricted to Africa and the northern temperate zone. Historically, the family has included the Dasypodaidae and Meganomiidae as subfamilies, but recent molecular studies indicate that Melittidae (sensu lato) was paraphyletic, so each of the three historical subfamilies is now accorded family status, with Dasypodaidae as the basal group of bees, followed by Meganomiids and Melittids, which are sister taxa.. [more]
Mutillidae are a family of more than 3,000 species of wasp whose wingless females resemble ants. Their common name velvet ant refers to their dense pile of hair which most often is bright scarlet or orange but may also be black, white, silver, or gold. Their bright colors serve as aposematic signals. They are known for their extremely painful sting, facetiously said to be strong enough to kill a cow, hence the common name cow killer or cow ant is applied to some species. Unlike a real ant, they do not have drones, workers, and queens. However, velvet ants do exhibit haplodiploid sex determination similar to other members of Vespoidea (JH Hunt 1999). [more]
Wasps in the family Pompilidae are commonly called spider wasps (in South America, species may be referred to colloquially as marabunta or marimbondo, though these names can be generally applied to any very large stinging wasps). The family is cosmopolitan, with some 5,000 species in 6 subfamilies. All species are solitary, and most capture and paralyze prey, though members of the subfamily Ceropalinae are cleptoparasites of other pompilids, or ectoparasitoids of living spiders. [more]
Rhopalosomatidae is a family of Hymenoptera. It contains about 68 extant species in four genera that are found worldwide. Three fossil genera are known. [more]
Scoliidae, the scoliid wasps, is a small family represented by 6 genera and about 20 species in North America, but they occur worldwide, with a total of around 300 species. They tend to be black, often marked with yellow or orange, and their wing tips are distinctively corrugated. Males are more slender and elongate than females, with longer antennae, but the sexual dimorphism is not as extreme as is common in the Tiphiidae, a closely related family. [more]
Sphecidae (Latreille, 1802) is a cosmopolitan family of wasps that include 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 7 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 Sphecidae per se is a much more restricted concept, equivalent to what used to be the subfamily Sphecinae. [more]
The Vespidae are a large (nearly 5,000 species), diverse, cosmopolitan family of wasps, including nearly all the known eusocial wasps and many wasps. Each social wasp colony includes a queen and a number of female workers with varying degrees of sterility relative to the queen. In temperate social species, colonies usually only last one year, dying at the onset of winter. New queens and males (drones) are produced towards the end of the summer, and after mating, the queens hibernate over winter in cracks or other sheltered locations. The nests of most species are constructed out of mud, but polistines and vespines use plant fibers, chewed to form a sort of paper (also true of some stenogastrines). Many species are pollen vectors contributing to the pollination of several plants, being potential or even effective pollinators. [more]
At least 4,081 species and subspecies belong to the Family Vespidae.
More info about the Family Vespidae may be found here.
- The text on this page is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It includes material from Wikipedia retrieved Wednesday, April 25, 2012.
- Photographs on this page are copyrighted by individual photographers, and individual copyrights apply.
- The technology underlying this page, including the controls behind Keep Exploring, is owned by the BayScience Foundation. All rights are reserved.