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A wasp of the genus Pison gathering water for nest construction.
A wasp of the genus Pison gathering water for nest construction.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Crabronidae
Subfamily: Crabroninae
Tribe: Trypoxylini
Genus: Pison

See text

Pison is a cosmopolitan genus of wasps within the family Crabronidae. The genus comprises 145 described species, although many species, especially in South America remain undescribed.[2]


The genus is found throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world, but does not extend into the more northerly temperate regions. Most species occur in the Southern Hemisphere, with a third of species occurring in Australia.[2] This distribution pattern has been thought to indicate that the genus was once much larger, and has declined in the face of competition with more competitive wasp genera, leaving the genus largely concentrated in geographically-isolated regions.[3]

The habit of many species of building nests in holes in wood, keyholes, and similar situations has led to a number of species being distributed widely by ships and aircraft. Several species, including P. argentatum and P. iridipenne are of uncertain native distribution, having been dispersed by humans in antiquity.[3][2]


Pison wasps raise their young on a diet of living, but paralysed, spiders. Spiders are collected by adult females, paralysed by means of a sting, and an egg is laid on the spider or spiders before they are sealed into a chamber constructed by the female. The paralysed spiders do not decay, and upon hatching the wasp larva eats the spider, before pupating and emerging from the chamber as an adult.[3][2][4]

While many species construct large mud nests in sheltered situations such as caves or tree hollows, other species make use of natural cavities such as hollow plant stems, beetle burrows, or abandoned bird nests, while still others dig their own nesting tunnels. Typically, multiple spiders-and-egg cells will be placed adjacent to one another in a larger nesting structure. Each cell is sealed off from adjoining eggs with mud or dung pellets. This sealing off of the young from each other is probably done to prevent competition and ensure that each young obtains sufficient food.[3][2]

Species and other subtaxa[edit]

At one time the genus Pison was divided into the subgenera Pison, Pisonoides, Krombeiniellum, and Entomopison.[5] These were later discarded in favor of species groups including (for the Americas):[5]

Accepted species[edit]

The following species are accepted as of 21 February 2018:[6]

Pison nomina nuda[edit]

The following are not officially described and have nomen nudum status:[6]

Species previously in Pison[edit]

These species have been transferred from Pison to other genera:[6]


  1. ^ Spinola, Massimiliano; Gravier, Yves (1806). "XCI Alyson ater". Insectorum Liguriae species novae aut rariores, quas in agro ligustico nuper detexit, descripsit, et iconibus illustravit Maximilianus Spinola, adjecto catalogo specierum auctoribus jam enumeratarum, quae in eadem regione passim occurrunt (in French). sumptibus auctoris. OCLC 229921216. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bohart, Richard Mitchell, and Arnold S. Menke. Sphecid wasps of the world: a generic revision. University of California Press, 1976.
  3. ^ a b c d Turner, Rowland E. "29. Notes On The Wasps Of The Genus Pison, And Some Allied Genera." Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. Vol. 86. No. 4. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1916.
  4. ^ "Pison the spider hunter". myrmecos.net. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b Menke, Arnold S. (1988). "Pison in the New World: a revision (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Trypoxylini)". Contributions of the American Entomological Institute. 24 (3): 5–8. ASIN B000721IBQ. ISSN 0569-4450. OCLC 715120981.
  6. ^ a b c "Pison" (PDF). Catalog of Sphecidae. San Francisco, CA: California Academy of Sciences. 21 February 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.