Last updated on June 7th, 2020
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.
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).
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.
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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/.