Main diagnostic characters

1. Antenna 5- to 7-segmented with funicle segments ring-like and club long and unsegmented (100%)
2. Scutellum strongly transverse with anterior and posterior margins subparallel and axillae not distinctly marked off from scutellum, the two together forming a transverse band (100%)
3. Propodeum with a characteristic large triangular median area (100%)
4. Body smooth more or less devoid of sculpture and often waxy in appearance (99%)
5. Fore- and hindwings naked or nearly so, more or less devoid of setae (100%)
6. Gaster broadly sessile (100%)

Included taxa

The family currently includes 4 genera and 76 species. No subfamily classification has been proposed.

Charterocerus sp.) Clytina giraudi
(Charterocerus sp.) (Clytina giraudi)


Signiphorids have been reared from scale-insects (Homoptera; Coccoidea), white-flies (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) and the puparia of Diptera. All but a few species are endoparasitoids, and most are known to be hyperparasitic via other chalcidoids (Ferriere & Kerrich, 1958). Some species are reported to be gregarious hyperparasitoids through encyrtids.

The egg is relatively large, oval and slightly curved and may have a distinct peduncle at the anterior end. The first instar larva is hymenopteriform with four pairs of spiracles, one on the mesothoracic segment and one on each of the first three abdominal segments (Quezada et al., 1973). Pupation takes place inside the host remains or, in the case of scale parasitoids, outside the body of the host but under the scale covering. Overwintering usually takes place as a mature larva or pupa within the host remains.

Signiphora merceti Thysanus ater
(Signiphora merceti) (Thysanus ater)


Ferrière & Kerrich, 1958 (British species); Woolley, 1990 (World genera).


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.

Quezada, J.R.; DeBach, P.; Rosen, D. 1973. Biological and taxonomic studies of Signiphora borinquensis, new species, (Hymenoptera: Signiphoridae), a primary parasite of diaspine scales. Hilgardia 41(18):543-604.

Woolley, J.B. 1988. Phylogeny and classification of the Signiphoridae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea). Systematic Entomology 13:465-501.

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Last updated 05-Sep-2003 Dr B R Pitkin