Ichneumonid / Other Wasps / Braconids

The Ichneumon family is the largest wasp family with over 3,000 known species in North America. Worldwide there are more than 24,000 described species and estimates of 60,000 to 100,000 total. Most cannot be identified to genus or species without genital dissection. There are some common characteristics that identify them to family. Ichneumonid wasps have a large number of antennal segments and the antennae often have a broad white or yellow band. Females may have a long ovipositor at the end of the abdomen that looks like a stinger but is an organ used to lay eggs. Some species have short ovipositors that are also used as stingers. The majority of Ichneumonids are parasitoids of larvae in the caterpillars of moths, butterflies, sawflies and horntail wasps. Some are parasitoids of beetle larvae. Similar families include Aulacidae, Gasteruptiidae, Pelecinidae and Evaniidae (see Other Wasps).

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