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|Megarhyssa macrurus female|
The Ichneumonoidea are insects classified in the hymenopteran suborder Apocrita. The superfamily is made up of the ichneumon wasps (sometimes inaccurately called "ichneumon flies"}; family Ichneumonidae and the braconids (family Braconidae). Like other parasitic wasps, they were long placed in the "Parasitica", variously considered as an infraorder or an unranked clade, but actually not a monophyletic group.
The superfamily Ichneumonoidea has been estimated to contain well over 80,000 different species. The ichneumon wasps are more familiar to non-entomologists, being larger and about three times as diverse as the braconids.
They are solitary insects, and most are parasitoids; the larvae feed on or in another insect which finally dies. Being in the same order, ichneumons are closely related to other hymenopterans, such as ants and bees.
Members of the family Ichneumonidae are usually larger than members of the Braconidae, and are distinguished primarily by details of wing venation. Many species in both families use polydnaviruses to suppress the immune systems of their host insects.
Some members use many different insects as hosts; others are very specific in host choice. Various ichneumons are used successfully as biological control agents in controlling pests such as flies or beetles.
Ichneumon wasp species are highly diverse, ranging from 3 to 130 mm (0.12 to 5.1 in) long. Most are slender, with the females of many species (particularly in the genus Megarhyssa) having an extremely long ovipositors for laying eggs. The female finds a host and lays an egg on, near, or inside the host's body. Upon hatching, the larval ichneumon feeds either externally or internally, killing the host when it is ready to pupate. Despite looking formidable, the ovipositor does not deliver a sting like many wasps or bees. It can be used by the wasps to bore into and lay eggs inside rotten wood.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ichneumonoidea|
- Reference large-format photos of 15 different species of Ichneumonidae
- An interesting account of an observer's encounter with Ichneumons.
- University of Florida Department of Entomology & Nematology page about ichneumons
- BugGuide page: Family Ichneumonidae - ichneumon wasps
- Sezen, Uzay. "Two ichneumon wasps competing to oviposit". Retrieved 12 September 2011.