These wasps are parasites ofwood-nesting and wood-infesting insects. Adult aulacids are 12-15 mm long, excluding the ovipositor, and the thorax is black and the abdomen usually reddish brown. The abdomen is attached high on the thorax (propodeum), well above the bases of the hind coxae. The ovipositor is usually slightly longer than the abdomen. Adults are associated with infested trees and logs, and may emerge from firewood infested with beetles or xiphydriid wasps. Aulacus parasitizes larvae of the Xiphydria wood-wasps, and Odontaulacus and Pristaulacus parasitize wood-infesting beetle larvae. Gasteruption and Rhydinofoenus are parasitic in bee and wasp nests in twigs or wood. The common species in North America include Pristaulacus rufitarsis, which is a parasite of the hemlock borer and poplar borer and P. bilobatus, which also parasitizes thehemlockborer. Aulacusburquei, A. digitalis, A. lovei,and A. pallipes parasitize several species ofwood-wasps (Xiphydria). In the UK, A. striatus attacks the larvae of Xiphydria camelus.

Female aulacids have a groove on the inner side of each hind coxa, and this forms a channel (aula, Greek for furrow) for the long ovipositor. During the process of oviposition, the female inserts her long and delicate ovipositor into infested wood; the hind coxae brought together around the ovipositor probably serve as support and guide. This feature of supporting the ovipositor between the hind coxae when it is in use is found in the braconid genus Capitonius and the ichneumonid genera Labena and Apechoneura. These genera are also parasites of wood-infesting beetle larvae.

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