Hymenoptera

Hymenoptera are a large group of insects with over 130,000 recognised species. 

Chrysis rudii, ruby-tailed wasp

Chrysis rudii, ruby-tailed wasp

The Hymenoptera are bested only by the Coleoptera (beetles) in the number of described species, but this will undoubtedly change once undescribed species are accounted for.

Hymenoptera is a diverse group and includes:

  • sawflies
  • ants
  • wasps
  • bees
Characteristics

Hymenoptera typically have biting mandibles and an ovipositor for laying their eggs into inaccessible places. 

The ovipositor is modified into a sting in ants, bees and wasps.

Sex determination 

Hymenoptera show haplodiploid sex determination which means fertilised eggs become females and unfertilised eggs become males. This allows females to adjust the sex ratio of their brood and leads to sociality, in a way that is not possible for other insects. 

Honeybee
Hymenoptera research

Learn about our extensive research on bees and parasitoid wasps.

About the name

The name Hymenoptera is derived from the Greek hymen meaning 'membranous', referring to the two pairs of wings which are neither leathery (unlike beetles) nor scaly (unlike moths and butterflies). 

Megascolia procer, wasp
Hymenoptera collection

The Museum's Hymenoptera collection has over 3 million pinned specimens and is still actively growing.