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Sculptures by Phyllis Bone

Order Hymenoptera - Bees, Wasps, Ants, Ichneumons (Top)

  • Two pairs of membranous wings
  • Hind wings much smaller than forewings
  • 0.21 - 67mm long
  • Biting mouthparts
  • Over 100,000 species, over 6,500 in Britain
  • World-wide
  • Habitats: from woodland to desert
  • Create own nests
  • Feeding techniques vary from active predation to complete vegetarianism and nectar feeding
  • Young are provisioned to varying degrees by parents / other adults

Suborder Symphyta

  • No typical wasp-waist
  • Hold wings flat over the body
O. Hymenoptera Symphyta O. Hymenoptera Symphyta

Suborder Apocrita

  • Typical wasp waist (made of anterior abdominal segments)
  • Have wingless castes
  • Divided into two groups, the Parasitica and Aculeata (Social wasps)
O. Hymenoptera Apocrita O. Hymenoptera Apocrita

Hymenoptera are considered to be the order of most benefit to humans, not only as pollinators for the flower, fruit and vegetable industries, but also as honey producers, in pest control (even of rats) and are even used medicinally as stitches (leafcutter ants), and for the antiseptic properties of formic acid

The sting of the group Aculeata is a modified ovipositor, used in defence and to kill and paralyse prey. Luckily the world's largest bee, the King Bee or Wallace's Giant Bee (Chalicsdoma pluto), does not have the barbed sting of most bees, and its sting is therefore less painful.

The largest wasps are Tarantula hawkwasps of the Pepsis genus, which can reach 6.7cm in length, and provision their larvae with paralysed tarantulas.

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