Leucospidae

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Leucospidae
Leucospis gigas
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Superfamily: Chalcidoidea
Family: Leucospidae
Fabricius, 1775
Genera

Leucospis
Micrapion
Neleucospis
Polistomorpha

Diversity
4 genera
c.135 species

The Leucospidae (sometimes incorrectly spelled Leucospididae) are a small, specialized group within the Chalcidoidea, composed exclusively of ectoparasitoids of aculeate wasps or bees. They are typically mimics of bees or stinging wasps, often black with yellow, red, or white markings, sometimes metallic, with a robust mesosoma and very strong sculpturing. The hind femora are often greatly enlarged, with a row of teeth or serrations along the lower margin as in Chalcididae. The female ovipositor is sometimes short, but if not, it is recurved and lies along the dorsal side of the metasoma, a unique feature. The males are also unusual, in the fusion of many of the metasomal segments to form a capsule-like "carapace".

Leucospids are generally rarely encountered except in areas where their hosts are abundant; in the United States, the most common species is Leucospis affinis, which attacks nests of leafcutter bees.

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