Skip to main content
Select Source:

Hymenoptera

Hymenoptera (ants, bees, sawflies, wasps; class Insecta, subclass Pterygota) Very large, complex, and diverse order, whose members show a high degree of adaptive radiation. There are two suborders, the Symphyta (sawflies), which do not have a constricted waist, and the Apocrita (ants, bees, and wasps), of which there are about 105 000 species worldwide, in which the waist is constricted. Hymenoptera have two pairs of wings, the fore wings a little longer than the hind wings, and both pairs with relatively few veins. In flight, the wings can be linked together by means of hamuli. Adults can be found in a large variety of habitats. They have mouth-parts that are either adapted for chewing or with the maxillae and labium modified to form a proboscis for sucking nectar, etc. The antennae are usually fairly long, with 10 or more segments. The ovipositor may be modified for sawing, piercing, or stinging (for defence or the paralysis of prey and hosts). Members of the order have complete metamorphosis, the pupae being adecticous, and usually exarate. Pupation normally takes place in a cocoon, in a special cell, or in the body of the host (in the case of parasitic species). The larvae of many species are plant feeders; many others are parasitic, living in or upon the bodies of other insects; still others live in special nests, constructed by the adults, and feed on materials with which the nest is provisioned. Some Hymenoptera are social insects whose life histories and biology are well known. Many Hymenoptera are extremely useful in the biological control of pest species. Some are important pollinators. Others are pests of cultivated plants, in some cases causing serious defoliation. The taxonomic characters used in the classification of the order include wing venation, the legs, the antennae, the pronotum, the thoracic structures, and the ovipositor.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hymenoptera." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hymenoptera." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hymenoptera

"Hymenoptera." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved May 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hymenoptera

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Hymenoptera

Hymenoptera An order of insects that includes the ants, bees, wasps, ichneumon flies, and sawflies. Hymenopterans generally have a narrow waist between thorax and abdomen. The smaller hindwings are interlocked with the larger forewings by a row of tiny hooks on the leading edges of the hindwings. Some species are wingless. The mouthparts are typically adapted for biting, although some advanced forms (e.g. bees) possess a tubelike proboscis for sucking liquid food, such as nectar. The long slender ovipositor can serve for sawing, piercing, or stinging. Metamorphosis occurs via a pupal stage to the adult form. Parthenogenesis is common in the group.

Ants and some bees and wasps live in colonies, often comprising numerous individuals divided into castes and organized into a coordinated and complex society. The colony of the honeybee (Apis mellifera), for example, consists of workers (sterile females), drones (fertile males), and usually a single fertile female – the queen. The sole concern of the queen is egg laying. She determines the gender of the egg by either withholding or releasing stored sperm. Unfertilized eggs become males; fertilized eggs become females. The workers fulfil a variety of tasks, including nursing the developing larvae, building the wax cells (combs) of the hive, guarding the colony, and foraging for nectar and pollen. The single function of the larger drones is to mate with the young queen on her nuptial flight.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hymenoptera." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hymenoptera." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hymenoptera-0

"Hymenoptera." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved May 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hymenoptera-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.