|Cuckoo Wasp - Chrysis angolensis|
Family Chrysididae - cuckoo wasps
Bees & Wasps Index | Parasitica | Aculeata | Symphyta
Live adult female wasp photographed at Winfield, Illinois. Size: 15mm
Cuckoo wasps lay their eggs in the nests of other hymenoptera, usually other solitary bees or wasps. Many are parasitic on bee or wasp larvae, some attack Symphyta larvae and one attacks Phasmid (walking stick) eggs. I found this single specimen rummaging around in the holes of a dead tree where ichneumon wasps were having a field day, too.
Another parasitic wasp that lays eggs in the brood chamber of other insects is the giant ichneumon wasp, Megarhyssa. Unlike the cuckoo wasp, which actually enter the hosts' nest to do their dirty work, the ichneumon uses a long, thin tube known as an ovipositor (seen here, trailing nearly 2 inches behind) to drill through the wood in which the unfortunate victim has ensconced their own eggs. The eggs are then passed down the tube and onto (in some cases into) the host brood.
Hymenoptera (Latin for membrane wing) is a vast assemblage of insects second only to Coleoptera (beetles) in the number of described species. Hymenoptera number some 115,000 species - of which 18,000 live in North America. Hymenopterans inhabit a wide variety of habitats, and show an incredible diversity in size, behavior, structure and color.
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