Insects & other Arthropods David A Kendall   BSc PhD
E-Mail: kendalluk@aol.com
Order Hymenoptera (Sawflies, Ants, Bees & Wasps)
(Hymeno-ptera, from Greek humen = membrane, pteron = wing)
Class: Insecta

Minute to moderate-sized insects, usually with two pairs of membranous wings, the front pair much larger than the hind pair. The wings are coupled together by a row of small hooks on the front edge of the hindwing. At first sight many flies (Diptera) may be confused with hymenopterans, but the flies have only one pair of wings and are easily distinguished on close examination. Eyes usually large. Antennae somewhat variable, but generally thread-like and often thickened towards the apex. Mouthparts of the biting type, many species with powerful jaws, sometimes combined with a tongue-like structure for lapping up sweet liquids. The latter is particularly well developed in the nectar-feeding bees. A well developed ovipositor at the tip of the abdomen is usually present in the female. The ovipositor is used for drilling into plant or animal tissues during egg-laying or it is modified as a sting and no longer used for laying eggs. There is a complex metamorphosis, with several larval stages and a pupal stage. Hymenopterous larvae are of two distinct types: (a) caterpillar-like, with well developed head and legs, and living on plant foliage; (b) grub-like, usually with a reduced head and always legless, and living as parasites, wood-borers, or protected in some kind of nest. The pupal stage is usually enclosed in some sort of cocoon, although this may be so flimsy as to appear absent. The Hymenoptera is perhaps second only to the Coleoptera (Beetles) in terms of number of species. The Order contains over 120,000 described species worldwide and no doubt many more are yet to be discovered. Over 6,500 species occur in the British Isles. The Order is split into two well-defined Sub-orders. These are the Symphyta, in which the thorax and abdomen of the adult insect are joined across their full width without a distinct constriction between the two, and the Apocrita, in which the abdomen of the adult is attached to the thorax by a narrow 'waist' formed by the first one or two abdominal segments. The Symphyta contains the Sawflies and Wood Wasps (or Horntails), which are the most primitive members of the order; the Apocrita contains the remaining Wasps, Ants and Bees, many of which are highly advanced and specialised insects. Only in this latter group and among the termites (Isoptera), do we find true social behaviour. From an economic standpoint, the Hymenoptera confer many benefits to our lives. Bees are important pollinators of fruit trees and other flowering plants, while the Honeybee is extensively cultured for its yield of honey and wax. A great many species are parasites of other insects and play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature; their activities are a recognised feature in the biological control of many insect crop-pests. Among the less desirable members of the Order are the defoliating larvae of Sawflies and the wood-boring larvae of certain Solitary Wasps and Bees. Of lesser importance are the small plant-feeding larvae of some Gall Wasps, which induce unusual plant growth resulting in gall formations, such as the familiar spherical galls on oak trees (known as 'oak-apples') and the bright red bedeguar galls on wild roses (often called 'robin's pincushion').

Sub-order Symphyta (Sawflies & Wood Wasps) Top  |  Home Page
Nematus sp.
Nematus sp. - a Sawfly
b. 6-7 mm
Wood Wasp or Horntail (female)
Urocerus gigas - Wood Wasp or Horntail (female)
b. 40-60 mm (Photo: V. Littlewood)
Wood Wasp or Horntail (female)
Urocerus gigas - Wood Wasp or Horntail (female)
b. 40-60 mm (Photo: C. Love)
Sub-order Apocrita (Ants, Bees & Wasps) Top  |  Home Page
Megachile sp. (female)
Megachile sp. - a Leaf-cutter Bee (female)
b. 10-15 mm
Red Mason Bee
Osmia rufa - Red Mason Bee
b. 12-16 mm
Hairy Footed Flower Bee (female)
Anthophora plumipes - Hairy Footed Flower Bee (female)
b. 12-18 mm
Early Mining Bee (female)
Andrena haemorrhoa - Early Mining Bee (female)
b. 8-10 mm
Hive or Honey Bee (worker)
Apis mellifera - Hive or Honey Bee (worker)
b. 12-15 mm
Hive or Honey Bee (worker)
Apis mellifera - Hive or Honey Bee (worker)
b. 12-15 mm
Tree Bumblebee (female)
Bombus hypnorum - Tree Bumblebee (female)
b. up to 18 mm
Large Red-tailed Bumblebee (female)
Bombus lapidarius - Large Red-tailed Bumblebee (female)
b. up to 25 mm
White-tailed Bumblebee (female)
Bombus lucorum - White-tailed Bumblebee (female)
b. up to 25 mm
Common Carder Bee
Bombus pascuorum - Common Carder Bee
b. up to 18 mm
Buff-tailed Bumblebee (female)
Bombus terrestris - Buff-tailed Bumblebee (female)
b. up to 25 mm
Bombus vestalis (female)
Bombus vestalis - a Cuckoo Bumblebee (female)
b. up to 22 mm
Red Banded Sand Wasp
Ammophila sabulosa - Red Banded Sand Wasp
b. 15-25 mm (Photo: R. S. Jones)
Hornet (female)
Vespa crabro - Hornet (female)
b. 25-30 mm (Photo: J. Myers)
Hornet (head & facial markings)
Vespa crabro - Hornet
(detail of head & facial markings)
Hornet (thoracic markings)
Vespa crabro - Hornet
(detail of thoracic markings) (Photo: T. Taylor)
German Wasp (female)
Vespula germanica - German Wasp (female)
b. 16-20 mm
German Wasp (head & facial markings)
Vespula germanica - German Wasp
(detail of head & facial markings)
German Wasp (head & facial markings)
Vespula germanica - German Wasp
(detail of head & facial markings)
German Wasp (head & facial markings)
Vespula germanica - German Wasp
(detail of head & facial markings)
German Wasp (thoracic markings)
Vespula germanica - German Wasp
(detail of thoracic markings)
Common Wasp (worker)
Vespula vulgaris - Common Wasp (worker)
b. 9-14 mm
Common Wasp (head & facial markings)
Vespula vulgaris - Common Wasp
(detail of head & facial markings)
Common Wasp (head & facial markings)
Vespula vulgaris - Common Wasp
(detail of head & facial markings)
Common Wasp (head & facial markings)
Vespula vulgaris - Common Wasp
(detail of head & facial markings)
Common Wasp (thoracic markings)
Vespula vulgaris - Common Wasp
(detail of thoracic markings)
Tree Wasp (head & facial markings)
Dolichovespula sylvestris - Tree Wasp
(detail of head & facial markings)
Norwegian Wasp (head & facial markings)
Dolichovespula norwegica - Norwegian Wasp
(detail of head & facial markings)
Dolichovespula sp. except D. media (thoracic markings)
Dolichovespula sp. except D. media
(detail of thoracic markings)
Median Wasp (worker)
Dolichovespula media - Median Wasp (worker)
b. 15-19 mm (Photo: G. Thompson)
Median Wasp (head & facial markings)
Dolichovespula media - Median Wasp
(detail of head & facial markings)
Median Wasp (thoracic markings)
Dolichovespula media - Median Wasp
(detail of thoracic markings)
Nests of Ants, Bees & Wasps Top  |  Home Page
Nest mound of the Yellow Meadow Ant
Lasius flavus - Nest mound of the Yellow Meadow Ant
(soil excavated from the underground nest)
Mud lined nests of a Mason Bee
Osmia sp. - Mud lined nests of a Mason Bee
(in the holes of a wall ventilation brick)
Leaf-cutter Bee damage on maple leaves
Megachile sp. - Leaf-cutter Bee damage on maple leaves
(neat oval pieces cut from leaf edges used as nest lining)
Nest holes of the Tawny Mining Bee
Andrena fulva - Nest holes of the Tawny Mining Bee
(often found in garden lawns, as in this photo)
Nest hole of the Tawny Mining Bee
Andrena fulva - Nest hole of the Tawny Mining Bee
(close-up of a single nest hole in a garden lawn)
Nest of the Common Carder Bee
Bombus pascuorum - Nest of the Common Carder Bee
(on soil surface inside ball of dead, shredded grass)
Nest of the Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Bombus terrestris - Nest of the Buff-tailed Bumblebee
(exposed underground nest inside ball of dead grass)
Nest of the Buff-tailed Bumblebee
Bombus terrestris - Nest of the Buff-tailed Bumblebee
(as previous photo but with nest brood cells exposed)
Nest site of the Hornet
Vespa crabro - Nest site of the Hornet
(workers at the nest entrance in a hollow tree)
(Photo: B. James)
Nest of the Common or the German Wasp
Vespula sp. - Nest of the Common or the German Wasp
(attached to timbers in the roof space of a house)
(Photo: S. Lothian)
Nest of the Median Wasp
Dolichovespula media - Nest of the Median Wasp
(hanging from the branch of a hawthorn tree)
(Photo: G. Thompson)
Parasitic Wasps (including plant galls induced by Gall Wasps) Top  |  Home Page
Diapria sp.
Diapria sp. - a parasite of fly puparia, b. 2-3 mm
(adults emerging from host puparium of a Drone Fly)
Diapria sp.
Diapria sp. - a parasite of fly puparia, b. 2-3 mm
(adult emerging from host puparium of a Drone Fly)
Aphidius sp.
Aphidius sp. - a parasite of aphids
(parasitized Nettle Aphids, commonly called 'mummies')
Apanteles sp.
Apanteles sp. - a parasite of caterpillars
(cocoons on host caterpillar of a Large White Butterfly)
Apanteles sp.
Apanteles sp. - a parasite of caterpillars, b. 3-4 mm
(adult emerging from cocoon cluster) (Photo: A. Sinclair)
Ophion or Netelia sp.
Ophion or Netelia sp. - an ichneumon wasp
b. 15-20 mm
Knopper Gall
Andricus quercuscalicis - Knopper Gall Wasp
(young larval gall on oak acorn)
Knopper Gall
Andricus quercuscalicis - Knopper Gall Wasp
(mature larval gall on oak acorn)
Marble Galls
Andricus kollari - Marble Gall Wasp
(larval galls on oak)
Oak Apple Galls
Biorhiza pallida - Oak Apple Gall Wasp
(larval galls on oak)
Top  |  Home Page
Copyright © 2014 David Kendall