Fig wasps

I he males and females of this family look very different. The tiny, flat-bodied females have wings. Males hardly resemble wasps at all - most are wingless with odd-shaped heads, weak middle legs, and their abdomen folded underneath their body. The common name of this family is derived from the fact that these wasps and fig trees arc totally dependent on each other. The trees can be pollinated only by these wasps, which in turn arc able to reproduce only inside tigs. Each wasp species pollinates a particular fig species.

• I JFK CY( l\ .K I jifc cycles can be complex. Typically, a female enters a young fig through a hole. The inside of the fig is lined with female flowers and the wasp pollinates these and lays eggs in some of the ovules. The larvae develop here and feed on galls produced during the egg-laying process. Males usually emerge first and mate with the females before they emerge, biting through the female's gall wall to reach her. By this time, the male flowers inside the fig have produced pollen, which the departing females pick up and take to the next fig tree.

• OCCIJRRKNCK Worldwide, in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate regions. Wherever fig trees grow.

• RKMARK Some species are parasites, laying eggs inside the larvae of other pollinating fig wasps. Recent research, however, puts some of these parasites in other families.

flat basal segment flat basal segment

C ERATO SO I.EN MEGACEPHAU IS is an African © fig wasp. The female is shown here, in the * process of laying her eggs inside a fig. She has lost her wings and the ends of her antennae in the struggle to enter the fig.

extremely long ovipositor meta I lie green-blue tloring pale tarsi

LARVAli are small, ^Vy pale, and grublike. & A They develop ^ inside figs.

BlASTOPHAGA PSENES is found all over the © world. It pollinates Ficus carica, the common fig. * A female is shown here, sitting on the outside of a fig. There are ten times more females than males.

extremely long ovipositor meta I lie green-blue tloring pale tarsi

YCOSCAPTER Sl'l .i MI'S re parasitic fig wasps, found in kfriea. Recent DNA analysis nggcsts that these wasps might utually belong to the family teromalidac (see p.201).

strong front legs

Family BKAC:C>NIOAi:

broad\ rounded head ovipositor smoky wings

• metallic blue abdomen

yellow background color on wings

V Pvaosmu s STICTICI S is one of five similar species in the genus found in the Northern I Icmisphcrc, where they attack weevils.

black hind tibiae black hi ne.I tarsi

1 black rear half of abdomen dear wings rear of thorax black •

large, dark eyes

0rder Hymknoptkra

Family BKAC:C>NIOAi:

I .ARVAK arc pale and grublike. Minute jaw details are used to distinguish species.

ovipositor

A Bathyaihax spkciks are widespread in Africa and Southeast Asia. Some species are used to control caterpillars that attack cereal crops.

brown bands on wings yellow background color on wings

V Pvaosmu s STICTICI S is one of five similar species in the genus found in the Northern I Icmisphcrc, where they attack weevils.

Bragonid wasps

Most species of hraconid wasp arc small and inconspicuous, and brown, reddish brown, or black in color. Some have very faint patterns of veins on their wings.

• LIFE CY(]LF Hraconid wasps are parasites, and each species uses a different host - mainly butterfly and moth caterpillars, but the young of aphids, flics, or other insects are used by some. A few species are hyperparasitoids. Females lay eggs on or inside the host. If the host is large, there may be enough food for hundreds of wasp larvae to develop inside. Larvae that develop inside aphids, which are found on foliage, spin a silk cocoon that sticks the host's body to the leaf. These mummified aphids contain the pupating wasp. The emerging adult wasp cuts a neat hole in the corpse and flics off.

• ()CCl iKIUiNCF Worldwide. In a variety of habitats, wherever suitable hosts arc found.

• klvVIARK Many species are used to control populations of insect pests.

black hind tibiae large, dark eyes broad\ rounded head black hi ne.I tarsi

ARCMRRACOM SRRVHJ.K! is common in tropical Africa. The wasp shown here is a male.

smoky wings

• metallic blue abdomen

1 black rear half of abdomen dear wings rear of thorax black •

reddish abdomen • reddish legs

Order HYMENOPTERA

Family CHALCIDIDAE

No. of species j gQg

0 0

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