Main diagnostic characters

1. Hind leg with femur characteristically swollen with one or more teeth on its inner margin and with tibia markedly curved (100%)
2. Prepectus very narrow, not clearly visible (100%)
3. Tegula oval, nearly as long as broad (100%)
4. Body robust, about 2.5-9.0mm in length (100%)

Included taxa

The family currently includes 87 genera and 1464 species placed in 5 subfamilies as follows: Chalcidinae (25/767), Dirhininae (3/65), Epitraninae (1/64), Haltichellinae (55/560), Smicromorphinae (1/6), unplaced (2/2).

Chalcis sp. Brachymeria boranensis
(Chalcis sp.)Chalcidinae
(Brachymeria boranensis)


Chalcidids are predominantly solitary, primary endoparasitoids of Lepidoptera and Diptera, though a few species attack Hymenoptera, Coleoptera or Neuroptera; some tropical species are ectoparasitoids, and a few may be gregarious. A number of species (including some tropical species of Conura) may be hyperparasitic. The British species have been recorded as endoparasitoids of Diptera, Coleoptera and Symphyta. Most are idiobionts, ovipositing into more or less fully grown hosts, such as mature larvae (in the case of parasitoids of Diptera), or young pupae (parasitoids of Lepidoptera). However, species of Chalcis are koinobiont parasitoids of Stratiomys (Diptera: Stratiomyidae). Some species oviposit into eggs of Stratiomys, which are laid in clusters on water-side vegetation (Cowan, 1979). The Stratiomys larvae, upon hatching, quickly enter water in which they undergo larval development. During this period the chalcidid larvae remain almost dormant inside them. When the Stratiomys larvae are ready to pupate they migrate to mud banks, or other similar sites above the waterline. The Chalcis larvae quickly complete their development and their adults emerge through round holes cut in the stratiomyid's calcified cuticle (Burks, 1979). The British species Chalcis myrifex oviposits directly into submerged Stratiomys larvae (Schremmer, 1960).

Dirhinus sp. Antrocephalus sp.
(Dirhinus sp.)
(Antrocephalus sp.)

Females may lay up to about 200 eggs which are elongately-oval and may sometimes have a very short petiole. The first instar larva may be caudate or hymenopteriform, with or without spiracles, but with well-developed cuticular spines. Subsequent instars are more or less hymenopteriform (Dowden, 1935; Arthur, 1958). Pupation takes place in the host pupa. Most chalcidids overwinter as adult females, or as mature larvae in the hosts.

Haltichellinae (gen. indet.)

Haltichellinae (gen. indet.)

Some chalcidids are of interest as parasitoids of insect pests. For example, Brachymeria intermedia is a parasitoid of Lymantria dispar, an introduced lepidopterous pest of a variety of trees in North America, but it has proved to be of little use for biological control purposes. Species of the predominantly tropical genus Dirhinus may be of some economic importance as parasitoids of synanthropic Diptera (Calliphoridae, Muscidae and Sarcophagidae) and tephritid soft-fruit pests (Boucek & Narendran, 1981).

Uga colliscutellum Oxycoryphe acuta
(Uga colliscutellum)
(Oxycoryphe acuta)


Ferrière & Kerrich, 1958 (British species); Boucek, 1952 (European species), 1988 (Australasian genera); Boucek & Delvare, 1992 (new world genera); Narendran, 1989 (Oriental genera and species).


Arthur, A.P. 1958. Development, behaviour, and descriptions of immature stages of Spilochalcis side (Walk.) (Hymenoptera: Chalcididae). Canadian Entomologist 90(10):590-595.

Boucek, Z. 1952. The first revision of the European species of the family Chalcididae (Hymenoptera). Sb. ent. Odd. n r. Mus. Praze 27(supplement 1):1-108, 17 plates.

Boucek, Z. 1988. Australasian Chalcidoidea (Hymenoptera). A biosystematic revision of genera of fourteen families, with a reclassification of species. :832pp.. CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon, U.K., Cambrian News Ltd; Aberystwyth, Wales.

Boucek, Z.; Narendran, T.C. 1981b. Indian chalcid wasps (Hymenoptera) of the genus Dirhinus parasitic on synanthropic and other Diptera. Systematic Entomology 6:229-251.

Burks, B.D. 1979. Torymidae (Agaoninae) and all other families of Chalcidoidea (excluding Encyrtidae). (In: Krombein, K.V.; Hurd, P.D. jr.; Smith, D.R.; Burks, B.D., Editors.) Catalogue of Hymenoptera in America north of Mexico 1:748-749, 768-889, 967-1043. Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, D.C.

Boucek, Z. & Delvare, G. 1992. On the New World Chalcididae (Hymenoptera). (Several different papers.) Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 53:iv+466pp.

Cowan, D.P. 1979. The function of enlarged hindlegs in oviposition and aggression by Chalcis canadensis. Great Lakes Entomologist 12(3):133-136.

Dowden, P.B. 1935. Brachymeria intermedia (Nees) a primary parasite of Brachymeria compsilurae Crawford a secondary parasite of gypsy moth. J. Agric. Res. 50(6):495-523.

Ferrière, C.; Kerrich, G.J. 1958. Hymenoptera 2. Chalcidoidea. Section (a) Agaontidae, Leucospidae, Chalcididae, Eucharitidae, Perilampidae, Cleonymidae and Thysanidae. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 8(2)(a):40pp, 79 figs, 5 Plates.

Narendran, T.C. 1989. Oriental Chalcididae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea). 439pp. University of Calicut, Kerala, India.

Schremmer, F. 1960. Beitrag zür Biologie der in Stratiomyiiden-larven parasitierenden Chalcididen der Gattung Smicra Spin. (Chalcis F.). Ent. Nach, Osterreich u. Schweiz. 12:83-89.

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Last updated 07-Jun-2004 Dr B R Pitkin