Wasps and Hornets

Often just called ‘bees’, wasps and hornets are actually the larger group, and bees are a specialized type of wasp

Like bees, wasps and hornets have the following characteristics:

  • two sets of wings
  • the females sting
  • three body segments
  • three pairs of legs
  • compound eyes in addition to simple eyes

Unlike bees, they:

  • neither have ‘hairy’ bodies nor legs
  • can sting multiple times (in stinging varieties)
  • are parasitical or predatorial – they feed on other insects, their larvae or dead organic matter, rather than pollen and nectar

As was seen in the overview of Order, Hymenoptera, bees are concentrated in the Superfamily, Apoidea. Wasps, on the other hand, can be found within several ranks falling under Suborder Apocrita, indicating that there is a great deal more variety in wasps’ biological characteristics, than in bees’. Indeed, they share categories with ants, sawflies and bees, in addition to having full ranks to themselves. Bees are just a specialized type of wasp that has evolved over time. This page is devoted to wasps and hornets.

A rough comparison of wasp (left) and bee (right) classifications is:

Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Infraorder: Aculeata
Superfamily: Apoidea
Superfamily: Chrysidoidea
Superfamily: Vespoidea
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Infraorder: Aculeata
Superfamily: Apoidea
Infraorder: Parasitica
Superfamily: Ceraphronoidea
Superfamily: Chalcidoidea
Superfamily: Cynipoidea
Superfamily: Evanioidea
Superfamily: Ichneumonoidea
Superfamily: Megalyroidea
Superfamily: Mymarommatoidea
Superfamily: Platygastroidea
Superfamily: Proctotrupoidea
Superfamily: Stephanoidea
Superfamily: Trigonaloidea

The following table is set up similarly to that found on the page for bee identification. For a nice discussion of members of infra-order Parasitica, I recommend the following site, the larger focus of which is hedges and hedgerows in the UK and Ireland. Note that all thumbnail photos can be clicked for enlargements. Some of these photos will open in a new window.

Infraorder Superfamily Family Sub-Family / Genus Examples
Aculeata Apoidea Ampulicidae cockroach wasps
Ampulex
Aphelotoma
Dolichurus
Paradolichurus
Riekefella
Trirogma
Ampulex compressa
Andrenidae (mason bees)
Apidae (several kinds of bees)
Colletidae (plasterer bees)
Crabronidae
cicadakillers, crabronid wasps, mud daubers, sand wasps

Astatinae
Bembicinae
Crabroninae
Mellininae
Pemphredoninae
Philanthinae
Wasp July 2008-1
MudDauberWaspBlr1
Dasypodaidae
Halictidae (“sweat bees”)
Heterogynaidae
spheciform apoid wasp
Heterogyna Heterogyna04
Megachilidae (leaf-cutting bees)
Meganomiidae
Melittidae
Sphecidae
digger wasps, mud daubers, thread-waisted wasps

Ammophilinae
Sceliphrinae
Sphecinae
Ammophila sabulosa m
Chalybion japonicum
Stenotritidae
Chrysidoidea Bethylidae
Chrysididae
cuckoo wasps

Amiseginae
Chrysidinae
Cleptinae
Loboscelidiinae
Dryinidae
Anteoninae
Aphelopinae
Apoaphelopinae
Apodryininae
Bocchinae
Conganteoninae
Dryininae
Erwiniinae
Gonatopodinae
Plesiodryininae
Transdryininae
Bocchus thorpei female 1
Embolemidae Embolemus zealandicus female dorsal
Plumariidae
Sclerogibbidae
Scolebythidae
Vespoidea
Bradynobaenidae
Apterogyna
Bradynobaenus
Chyphotes
Gynecaptera
Typhoctes
Apterogyna schutzei m
Formicidae (ants)
Mutillidae (velvet ants)
Pompilidae
spider wasps

Ceropalinae
Ctenocerinae
Pepsinae
Pompilinae
Pompilus cinereus 1
Rhopalosomatidae
rhopalosomatid wasps

Liosphex
Olixon
Paniscomima
Rhopalosoma
Rhopalosoma spec
Sapygidae
club-horned wasps

Araucania
Asmisapyga
Eusapyga
Fedtschenkia
Huarpea
Krombeinopyga
Monosapyga
Parasapyga
Polochridium
Polochrum
Sapyga
Sapygina
Eusapvertic
Scoliidae
Scoliinae
Proscoliinae
Scoliidae - Scolia hirta-1
Sierolomorphidae Sierolomorpha canadensis
Tiphiidae
Anthoboscinae
Brachycistidinae
Diamminae
Methochinae
Myzininae
Thynninae
Tiphiinae
Tiphia.femorata.-.lindsey
Vespidae Eumeninae
potter wasps

Euparagiinae
Masarinae

pollen wasps

Polistinae

paper wasps

Stenogastrinae
Vespinae

yellowjackets, hornets
Yellow Jacket

Mason Wasp Eumenide by Wikimedia user, Wofl

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