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Temporal range: Late Jurassic–Recent
Vespula vulgaris I.jpg
Vespula vulgaris
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Infraorder: Aculeata
(but see text)

Aculeata is a subclade of Hymenoptera containing ants, bees, and stinging wasps. The name is a reference to the defining feature of the group, which is the modification of the ovipositor into a stinger. However, many members of the group cannot sting, either retaining the ovipositor, or having lost it altogether. A large part of the clade is parasitic.

This group includes all of the eusocial Hymenopterans. It is theorized that the possession of a venomous sting was important in the repeated evolution of eusociality within Hymenoptera.

The oldest aculeates are known from the Late Jurassic Karabastau Formation of Kazakhstan, represented by the family Bethylonymidae, which may be para or polyphyletic.[1]


The use of the name Aculeata has a long history at the rank of infraorder or division. The Aculeata are a monophyletic, or good natural group, containing all the descendants of a single common ancestor. The Aculeata are therefore maintained as a taxon, either at infraorder or division rank or as an unranked clade.[2][3][4][5][6]


Sawflies Xyelapusilla.jpg

Orussoidea (wood wasps) Orussus coronatus.jpg


Stephanoidea Stephanus serrator F (ovipositing) rotated (cropped).JPG

Ichneumonoidea Atanycolus sp.jpg

non-stinging wasps Cynips sp beentree.jpg


Chrysidoidea (jewel wasps) Chrysididae jewel wasp.jpg

Vespidae (yellowjackets, paper wasps, hornets) European wasp white bg.jpg


Mutillidae, Pompilidae, Tiphiidae, etc Spider Wasp (cropped).JPG


Formicidae (ants) Meat eater ant feeding on honey02.jpg

Apoidea (bees and sphecoid wasps) Apis mellifera (in flight) (cropped).jpg

wasp waist 


  1. ^ Grimaldi, David A.; Peñalver, Enrique; Barrón, Eduardo; Herhold, Hollister W.; Engel, Michael S. (2019-11-07). "Direct evidence for eudicot pollen-feeding in a Cretaceous stinging wasp (Angiospermae; Hymenoptera, Aculeata) preserved in Burmese amber". Communications Biology. 2 (1): 408. doi:10.1038/s42003-019-0652-7. ISSN 2399-3642. PMC 6838090. PMID 31728419.
  2. ^ Johnson, Brian R.; Borowiec, Marek L.; Chiu, Joanna C.; Lee, Ernest K.; Atallah, Joel; Ward, Philip S. (2013). "Phylogenomics resolves evolutionary relationships among ants, bees, and wasps". Current Biology. 23 (20): 1–5. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.08.050. PMID 24094856.
  3. ^ Branstetter, Michael G.; Danforth, Bryan N.; Pitts, James P.; Faircloth, Brant C.; Ward, Philip S.; Buffington, Matthew L.; Gates, Michael W.; Kula, Robert R.; Brady, Seán G. (2017). "Phylogenomic Insights into the Evolution of Stinging Wasps and the Origins of Ants and Bees". Current Biology. 27 (7): 1019–1025. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.03.027. PMID 28376325.
  4. ^ Schulmeister, S. (2003). "Simultaneous analysis of basal Hymenoptera (Insecta), introducing robust-choice sensitivity analysis". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 79 (2): 245–275. doi:10.1046/j.1095-8312.2003.00233.x.
  5. ^ Schulmeister, S. "Symphyta". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  6. ^ Peters, Ralph S.; Krogmann, Lars; Mayer, Christoph; Donath, Alexander; Gunkel, Simon; Meusemann, Karen; Kozlov, Alexey; Podsiadlowski, Lars; Petersen, Malte (2017). "Evolutionary History of the Hymenoptera". Current Biology. 27 (7): 1013–1018. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.01.027. PMID 28343967.

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