An overview of Methocha wasps

Last updated on June 7th, 2020

From: Curtis J., 1824
British Entomology.

The small Aculeate wasps of the genus Methocha are slender animals with wingless, antlike females and winged males, and they belong to the Methochinae, a subfamily of the Tiphiidae wasps, Hymenoptera Apocrita.

 

Class Insecta

Order Hymenoptera

 Suborder Apocrita

 Series Aculeata

 Superfamily Scolioidea

 Family Tiphiidae

 Subfamily Methochinae

Genus Methocha Latreille, 1804
Subg. Methocha Latreille, 1804
Subg. Dryinopsis Brues, 1910
Subg. Andreus Ashmead, 1903

Genus Karlissa Krombein, 1979

Tiphiidae (known as flower-wasps, roll-wasps, Rollwespen) are a relatively rich family, with over 1,500 species distributed world-wide. They are solitary wasps, well known to be specialized ectoparasitoids on larval beetles (Coleoptera Scarabaeoidea and Cicindelidae).

Tiphia - image taken from www.oardc.ohio-state.edu
Cicindela - image taken from www.fogato.com

Methocha females prey on ant-eating cicindelid larvae, which are commonly found in burrows along sandy soils. Initially, the wasp enters the burrow of the tiger beetle larva and is quickly caught in the predator’s deadly mandibles. But, thanks to its thin body that mimics an ant, it is able to escape the predator’s mandibles and to sting the larva in order to paralyze it. During the fight, the beetle larva can leave its burrow, but after the sting the Methocha wasp is able to drag the larva back into its own burrow. Once there, the wasp lays and glues an egg on the paralyzed tiger beetle larval body, then seals the entrance to the burrow with soil particles. The Methocha larva develops within 2-3 weeks and eats the paralyzed larva.

Tiphiid species are winged wasps, except for Methochinae and Thynninae (wingless females), with elongated thorax subdivided in three segments, antennas with 12 flagellomeres in females and 13 flagellomeres in males.

The relationships among the tiphiid subfamilies were studied by Kimsey (1991). The phylogenetic relationships between the Tiphiidae and the Aculeta were outlined by Brothers & Carpenter (1993).

The widespread Methochinae include only few species, which are absent from the Australian region.


Copyright, Authorship, and Ownership statements

All text and images are copyright ©️ Chrysis.net unless otherwise stated - please see individual cases for authorship and copyright details. The specimens pictured are from the authors' or other collaborators' personal collections and from the collections of various museums. Unless otherwise specified, the whole content of this web site is for personal, non-commercial, scientific, and educational purposes given proper accreditation to the page from which they were derived are provided, and under Chrysis.net Terms and Conditions.

For citation purposes

Agnoli G.L. (2020) An overview of Methocha wasps, in: Chrysis.net website. Interim version 15 July 2020, URL: https://www.chrysis.net/resources/methocha/overview/.