Last updated on September 2nd, 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 Thynnidae wasps, Hymenoptera Apocrita.
Thynnidae – also known as flower wasps, roll-wasps, Rollwespen – are a family of solitary wasps whose larvae are almost universally specialized ectoparasitoids on various beetle larvae, especially Scarabaeoidea and Cicindelidae.
Most thynnid species are small, but they can be up to 30 mm long.
Until recently, some of the constituents of this family were classified in the family Tiphiidae, but multiple studies have independently confirmed that thynnids are a separate lineage. [from: Wikipedia].
Genus Methocha Latreille, 1804
Subg. Methocha Latreille, 1804
Subg. Dryinopsis Brues, 1910
Subg. Andreus Ashmead, 1903
Genus Karlissa Krombein, 1979
Thynnid species are winged wasps, except for Diamminae, Methochinae and Thynninae whose females are wingless. Methochinae have an elongated thorax subdivided in three segments, antennas with 12 flagellomeres in females and 13 flagellomeres in males.
Go to the page Morphology of Methocha wasps.
Thynnid wingless females hunt ground-dwelling (fossorial) beetle larvae, or (in one case) mole crickets. The prey is paralysed with the female’s sting and an egg is laid on it so the wasp larva has a ready supply of food.
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.
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For citation purposes
Agnoli G.L. (2021) An overview of Methocha wasps, in: Chrysis.net website. Interim version 16 May 2021, URL: https://www.chrysis.net/resources/methocha/overview/.