Taxonomy of the Hymenoptera

Last updated on September 3rd, 2020

Hymenoptera is a large order of insects, comprising over 150,000 described species. They originated in the Triassic, and social hymenopterans during the Cretaceous.

The Classification of the Hymenoptera consists of two main divisions (starting from Gerstäcker, 1867):

  1. the Symphyta, which lack a “wasp waist”, and instead have a broad connection between the abdomen (metasoma) and the thorax (mesosoma);
  2. the Apocrita, which have a narrow waist “wasp waist”.

Symphyta – The suborder Symphyta includes the sawflies, horntails, and parasitic wood wasps. The Symphyta are the more primitive (basal) group of the Hymenoptera, with an unconstricted junction between the thorax and abdomen and comparatively complete wing venation. The larvae are phytophagous (herbivorous), with three pairs of true legs, prolegs (on every segment, unlike Lepidoptera) and ocelli. Together, the Symphyta make up less than 10% of hymenopteran species, with about 10,000 described species.

Apocrita – The suborder Apocrita includes the true wasps, bees, and ants. The Apocrita are the most advanced hymenopterans. They have a constriction between the first and second abdominal (metasomal) segments called a “wasp-waist” (petiole), with the first abdominal segment fused to the thorax (propodeum). The larvae of all Apocrita lack legs, prolegs, or ocelli and are blind. The family Orussidae (Symphyta) may be the group from which the Apocrita arose.

The Apocrita have historically been split into two groups, “Parasitica” and “Aculeata”, but these are rankless groupings.

Parasitica – The term Parasitica is an artificial (paraphyletic) group comprising the majority of hymenopteran insects, with members living as parasitoids, many of which having an ovipositor adapted for piercing.

Aculeata – The Aculeata are a monophyletic group, or good natural group, representing a single “branch” on the “tree of life”. It includes those species in which the female’s ovipositor is modified into a stinger to inject venom. The Aculeata are therefore maintained as infraorder or division or as an unranked clade – From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aculeata).

Taxonomy of the Hymenoptera

The taxonomy of Hymenoptera can be based on different classification criteria, such as morphology, behavior, cladistic methods and molecular phylogenetics. Here we present three alternative hierarchical trees.

This tree does not consider the phylogenetic relationships, since many different visions are still discordant. And is a taxonomy based on Superfamilies that abandons the traditional approach of using sections (infraorders) as ‘Terebrantia’ (‘Parasitica’) or ‘Aculeata’ of the Suborder ‘Apocrita’.

 

Kingdom Animalia

Subkingdom Eumetazoa

Phylum Arthropoda

Subphylum Hexapoda

Class Insecta

Order Hymenoptera

Family Gerocynipidae
Family Palaeocynipidae
Family Rasnitsyniidae

Suborder Symphyta

Superfamily Cephoidea
Family Cephidae
Superfamily Megalodontoidea
Family Megalodontidae
Family Pamphilidae
Superfamily Orussoidea
Family Orussidae
Superfamily Siricoidea
Family Siricidae
Superfamily Tenthredinoidea
Family Argidae
Family Blasticotomidae
Family Cimbicidae
Family Diprionidae
Family Pergidae
Family Tenthredinidae
Superfamily Xyeloidea
Family Anaxyelidae
Family Xyelidae
Family Xiphydriidae

Suborder Apocrita

Superfamily Apoidea
Family Ampulicidae
Family Andrenidae
Family Apidae
Family Colletidae
Family Crabronidae
Family Halictidae
Family Heterogynaidae
Family Megachilidae
Family Melittidae
Family Sphecidae
Family Stenotritidae
Superfamily Ceraphronoidea
Family Ceraphronidae
Family Megaspilidae
Superfamily Chalcidoidea
Family Agaonidae
Family Aphelinidae
Family Chalcididae
Family Eucharitidae
Family Eulophidae
Family Eupelmidae
Family Eurytomidae
Family Leucospidae
Family Mymaridae
Family Ormyridae
Family Perilampidae
Family Pteromalidae
Family Rotoitidae
Family Signiphoridae
Family Tanaostigmatidae
Family Tetracampidae
Family Torymidae
Family Trichogrammatidae
Superfamily Chrysidoidea
Family Bethylidae
Family Chrysididae
Family Dryinidae
Family Embolemidae
Family Plumariidae
Family Sclerogibbidae
Family Scolebythidae
Superfamily Cynipoidea
Family Austrocynipidae
Family Cynipidae
Family Figitidae
Family Ibaliidae
Family Liopteridae
Superfamily Evanioidea
Family Aulacidae
Family Evaniidae
Family Gasteruptiidae
Superfamily Ichneumonoidea
Family Braconidae
Family Ichneumonidae
Superfamily Megalyroidea
Family Megalyridae
Superfamily Mymarommatoidea
Family Mymarommatidae
Superfamily Platygastroidea
Family Platygastridae
Family Scelionidae
Superfamily Proctotrupoidea
Family Austroniidae
Family Diapriidae
Family Heloridae
Family Monomachidae
Family Pelecinidae
Family Peradeniidae
Family Proctorenyxidae
Family Proctotrupidae
Family Roproniidae
Family Vanhorniidae
Superfamily Stephanoidea
Family Stephanidae
Superfamily Trigonalyoidea
Family Trigonalyidae
Superfamily Vespoidea
Family Bradynobaenidae
Family Formicidae
Family Mutillidae
Family Pompilidae
Family Rhopalosomatidae
Family Sapygidae
Family Scoliidae
Family Sierolomorphidae
Family Tiphiidae
Family Vespidae

 

 

 

 

Source: https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=152741#null

Kingdom Animalia — animals

Subkingdom Bilateria

Infrakingdom Protostomia

Superphylum Ecdysozoa

Phylum Arthropoda - arthropods

Subphylum Hexapoda — hexapods

Class Insecta — insects

Subclass Pterygota — winged insects

Infraclass Neoptera — modern, wing-folding insects

Superorder Holometabola

Order Hymenoptera - ants, bees, wasps

Suborder Apocrita - wasps, bees, and ants

Infraorder Aculeata - "stinging wasps"

Superfamily Apoidea - bees, sphecoid wasps, apoid wasps
Family Ampulicidae - cockroach wasps, ampulicid wasps
Family Andrenidae - andrenid bees, andrenids
Family Angarosphecidae
Family Apidae - bumble bees, euglossine, euglossines, honey bees, stingless bees
Family Colletidae - colletid bees, plasterer bees, yellow-faced bees
Family Crabronidae - crabronid wasps, cicadakillers, sand wasps, mud daubers
Family Halictidae - halictid bees, sweat bees
Family Heterogynaidae
Family Megachilidae - leafcutting bees
Family Melittidae - melittid bees, melittids
Family Paleomelittidae
Family Sphecidae - mud daubers, sphecid wasps, digger wasps, sand wasps
Family Stenotritidae - stenotritid bees, stenotritids
Superfamily Bethylonymoidea
Family Bethylonymidae
Superfamily Chrysidoidea
Family Bethylidae - bethylid wasps
Family Chrysididae - cuckoo wasps
Family Dryinidae - dryinid wasps
Family Embolemidae
Family Plumariidae
Family Sclerogibbidae
Family Scolebythidae
Superfamily Vespoidea - vespoid wasps
Family Bradynobaenidae
Family Falsiformicidae
Family Formicidae - ants, fourmis
Family Mutillidae - velvet ants
Family Pompilidae - spider wasp
Family Rhopalosomatidae - rhopalosomatid wasps
Family Sapygidae - sapygid wasps
Family Scoliidae - scoliid wasps
Family Sierolomorphidae - sierolomorphid wasps
Family Tiphiidae - tiphiid wasps
Family Vespidae - hornets, paper wasps, potter wasps, yellowjackets

Infraorder Terebrantes

Superfamily Ceraphronoidea
Family Ceraphronidae - ceraphronids, ceraphronides, ceraphronid wasps
Family Maimetshidae
Family Megaspilidae - megaspilides, megaspilid wasps, megaspilids
Family Stigmaphronidae
Superfamily Chalcidoidea - chalcidoid wasps, chalcidoids
Family Agaonidae - fig wasps
Family Aphelinidae
Family Chalcididae - chalcidid wasps, chalcids, chalcidids
Family Encyrtidae - encyrtid wasps, encyrtids
Family Eucharitidae - eucharitids
Family Eulophidae - eulophid wasps, eulophids
Family Eupelmidae - eupelmids
Family Eurytomidae - eurytomids, jointworms, seed chalcids
Family Leucospidae - leucospids
Family Mymaridae - fairyflies
Family Ormyridae - armyrids
Family Perilampidae - perilampids
Family Pteromalidae - pteromalid wasps, pteromalids
Family Rotoitidae
Family Signiphoridae
Family Tanaostigmatidae - tanaostigmatids
Family Tetracampidae
Family Torymidae - torymid wasps, torymids
Family Trichogrammatidae - trichogrammatid wasps, trichogrammatids
Superfamily Cynipoidea - gall wasps, cynipoids
Family Archaeocynipidae
Family Austrocynipidae
Family Cynipidae - gall wasps, cynipid gall wasps
Family Figitidae - figitids
Family Ibaliidae - ibaliids
Family Liopteridae - liopterids
Family Rasnicynipidae
Superfamily Evanioidea - parasitic hymenoptera
Family Aulacidae - aulacids
Family Evaniidae - ensign wasps
Family Gasteruptiidae - gasteruptiids
Family Praeaulacidae
Superfamily Ichneumonoidea - parasitic hymenoptera, hyménoptères parasites
Family Braconidae - braconid wasps, braconids, braconides
Family Eoichneumonidae
Family Ichneumonidae - ichneumon flies, ichneumon wasps, ichneumons
Family Praeichneumonidae
Superfamily Megalyroidea
Family Megalyridae
Superfamily Mymarommatoidea
Family Mymarommatidae
Superfamily Platygastroidea
Family Platygastridae - platygastrids
Family Scelionidae - scelionid wasps, scelionids
Superfamily Proctotrupoidea - true parasitic hymenoptera
Family Austroniidae
Family Diapriidae - diapriids
Family Heloridae - helorids
Family Jurapriidae
Family Maamingidae
Family Mesoserphidae
Family Monomachidae
Family Pelecinidae - pelecinid wasps, pelecinids
Family Peradeniidae
Family Proctorenyxidae
Family Proctotrupidae - proctotrupids
Family Roproniidae - roproniids
Family Vanhorniidae - vanhorniids
Superfamily Serphitoidea
Family Serphitidae
Superfamily Stephanoidea
Family Stephanidae - stephanids
Superfamily Trigonaloidea
Family Trigonalidae

Suborder Symphyta - sawflies, horntails, and parasitic wood wasps

Superfamily Cephoidea - stem sawflies
Family Cephidae - stem sawflies
Superfamily Orussoidea
Family Orussidae - parasitic wood wasps
Superfamily Pamphilioidea
Family Megalodontesidae
Family Pamphiliidae - leaf-rolling sawflies, web-spinning sawflies
Superfamily Siricoidea - wood wasps
Family Anaxyelidae
Family Siricidae - horntails
Superfamily Tenthredinoidea - sawflies
Family Argidae - argid flies, argid sawflies
Family Blasticotomidae
Family Cimbicidae - cimbicid sawflies
Family Diprionidae - conifer sawflies
Family Pergidae - pergid flies
Family Tenthredinidae - common sawflies, tenthredinid sawflies
Superfamily Xiphydrioidea
Family Xiphydriidae - wood wasps
Superfamily Xyeloidea
Family Xyelidae - xyelid flies, xyelid sawflies

Recent research in molecular phylogenetics has resulted in the reorganization of the infraorder Aculeata, which now contains eight superfamilies: Apoidea, Chrysidoidea, Formicoidea, Pompiloidea, Scolioidea, Tiphioidea, Thynnoidea, and Vespoidea.

 
NOTE: the symbol † indicates an extinct taxon.
 

Kingdom Animalia – animals

Subkingdom Bilateria

Infrakingdom Protostomia

Superphylum Ecdysozoa

Phylum Arthropoda – arthropods

Subphylum Hexapoda – hexapods

Class Insecta – insects

Subclass Pterygota – winged insects

Infraclass Neoptera – modern, wing-folding insects

Superorder Holometabola

Order Hymenoptera – ants, bees, wasps

Suborder Apocrita – wasps, bees, and ants

(unranked) Aculeata - "stinging wasps"

Superfamily Apoidea subgroup Spheciformes (previously: "Sphecoidea") – sphecoid wasps
Family Ammoplanidae
Family Ampulicidae (cockroach wasps)
Family Astatidae
Family Bembicidae
Family Crabronidae (sand wasps, bee wolves, etc.)
Family Mellinidae
Family Pemphredonidae
Family Philanthidae
Family Psenidae
Family Sphecidae (digger wasps)
Superfamily Apoidea subgroup Anthophila (previously: "Apoidea") – bees, apoid wasps
Family Andrenidae (mining bees)
Family Apidae (carpenter bees, digger b., cuckoo b., bumble b., orchid b., and honeybees)
Family Colletidae (yellow-faced bees and plasterer bees)
Family Halictidae ("sweat bees")
Family Megachilidae (leaf-cutting bees)
Family Melittidae
Family Stenotritidae
Superfamily Chrysidoidea
Family Bethylidae
Family Chrysididae (cuckoo wasps)
Family Dryinidae
Family Embolemidae
Family Plumariidae
Family Sclerogibbidae
Family Scolebythidae
Superfamily Formicoidea
Family Formicidae (ants)
Superfamily Pompiloidea
Family Mutillidae (velvet ants)
Family Myrmosidae
Family Pompilidae (spider wasps)
Family Sapygidae
Superfamily Scolioidea
Family Scoliidae
Superfamily Tiphioidea
Family Bradynobaenidae
Family Sierolomorphidae
Family Tiphiidae
Superfamily Thynnoidea
Family Chyphotidae
Family Thynnidae
Superfamily Vespoidea
Family Rhopalosomatidae
Family Vespidae (paper wasps, potter wasps, hornets, pollen wasps, yellowjackets)

(unranked) Parasitica

Superfamily Ceraphronoidea
Family Ceraphronidae
Family Megaspilidae
Superfamily Chalcidoidea
Family Agaonidae (fig wasps)
Family Aphelinidae
Family Chalcididae (chalcid wasps)
Family Encyrtidae
Family Eucharitidae
Family Eulophidae
Family Eupelmidae
Family Eurytomidae (seed chalcids)
Family Leucospidae
Family Mymaridae (fairyflies) — the smallest of all insects
Family Ormyridae
Family Perilampidae
Family Pteromalidae
Family Rotoitidae
Family Signiphoridae
Family Tanaostigmatidae
Family Tetracampidae
Family Torymidae
Family Trichogrammatidae
Superfamily Cynipoidea
Family Austrocynipidae
Family Cynipidae (gall wasps)
Family Figitidae
Family Ibaliidae
Family Liopteridae
Superfamily Diaprioidea
Family Austroniidae
Family Diapriidae
Family Maamingidae
Family Monomachidae
Superfamily Evanioidea
Family Aulacidae
Family Evaniidae (ensign wasps)
Family Gasteruptiidae
Superfamily Ichneumonoidea
Family Braconidae
Family Ichneumonidae (ichneumon wasps)
Superfamily Megalyroidea
Family Megalyridae
Superfamily Mymarommatoidea
Family Mymarommatidae
Superfamily Platygastroidea
Family Platygastridae
Family Scelionidae
Superfamily Proctotrupoidea
Family Heloridae
Family Pelecinidae
Family Peradeniidae
Family Proctorenyxidae
Family Proctotrupidae
Family Roproniidae
Family Vanhorniidae
Superfamily Stephanoidea
Family Stephanidae
Superfamily Trigonaloidea
Family Trigonalidae

Suborder Symphyta - sawflies, horntails, and parasitic wood wasps

Superfamily Anaxyeloidea
Family Anaxyelidae
Superfamily Cephoidea
Family Cephidae
Family †Sepulcidae
Superfamily †Karatavitoidea
Family †Karatavitidae
Superfamily Orussoidea
Family Orussidae
Superfamily Pamphilioidea
Family Megalodontesidae
Family Pamphiliidae Cameron, 1890
Family †Xyelydidae
Superfamily Siricoidea
Family Siricidae (horntails)
Family Xiphydriidae (wood wasps, sometimes treated as a separateSuperfamily, Xiphydrioidea)
Family †Daohugoidae
Family †Protosiricidae
Family †Pseudosiricidae
Family †Sinosiricidae
Superfamily Tenthredinoidea
Family Argidae
Family Blasticotomidae
Family Cimbicidae
Family Diprionidae
Family Pergidae
Family Tenthredinidae
Superfamily Xiphydrioidea
Family Xiphydriidae
Superfamily Xyeloidea
Family Xyelidae

References

Aguiar, A.P.; Deans, A.R.; Engel, M.S.; Forshage, M.; et al. (2013). “Order Hymenoptera. In: Zhang Z-Q (ed) Animal biodiversity: An outline of higher-level classif. and survey of taxonomic richness”. Zootaxa. 3703: 51–62.

Debevec A.H., Cardinal S., Danforth B.N. (2012) “Identifying the sister group to the bees: a molecular phylogeny of Aculeata with an emphasis on the superfamily Apoidea”. Zoologica Scripta 41: 527-535.

Pilgrim, Erik M.; Von Dohlen, Carol D.; Pitts, James P. (2008). “Molecular phylogenetics of Vespoidea indicate paraphyly of the superfamily and novel relationships of its component families and subfamilies”. Zoologica Scripta. 37 (5): 539–560.

Sharkey, M.J.; Carpenter, J.M.; Vilhelmsen, L. (2012). “Phylogenetic relationships among superfamilies of Hymenoptera”. Cladistics. 28: 80–112.


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Agnoli G.L. & Rosa P. (2020) Taxonomy of the Hymenoptera, in: Chrysis.net website. Interim version 28 October 2020, URL: https://www.chrysis.net/resources/taxonomy-of-hymenoptera/.