Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
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Family Braconidae - Braconid Wasps

Head and thorax (top) Praon Hymenoptera - Braconidae? Small Red Wasp on MIlkweed - Bracon - female Can anyone tell me what this might be? (Parasitized Caterpillar) Alysiinae? Parasitoid of Rhopobota dietziana - Bassus annulipes - female Wasp --?
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon ("Parasitica" (parasitic Apocrita))
Superfamily Ichneumonoidea (Braconids and Ichneumons)
Family Braconidae (Braconid Wasps)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
classification in the guide follows(1)
>1700 spp. in >200 genera of 36 subfamilies in our area, about 14,890 spp. in __ genera of ~50 subfamilies worldwide (info courtesy Drs Carlson, Fortier, and Sharkey). Published estimates as of 1984 estimate that only one half to one third of all existing species had been formally described at that time.
subfamilies not yet in the guide:
Adeliinae ( spp. in 2 genera in our area)
Dirrhopinae ( spp. in 1 genus in our area)
Exothecinae ( spp. in _ genera in our area)
Hormiinae ( spp. in _ genera in our area)
Masoninae (2 spp. in 1 genus in our area. Rare. southeastern USA)
Meteorideinae ( spp. in 1 genus in our area)
Microtypinae ( spp. in 1 genus in our area)
Pambolinae ( spp. in _ genera in our area)
Rhysipolinae ( spp. in _ genera in our area)
Rhyssalinae ( spp. in _ genera in our area)
rarely over 15 mm; smallest 1-3 mm.
Antennae apparently with 16 or more segments
generalized braconid wing plan. Note that there is no second recurrent vein, as in Ichneumonidae.
Female ovipositor length varies widely, from very long to short
For more info see also(2) and (3). Also see pp. 98-99 of Fortier 2009, downloadable as a PDF for labeled diagrams of braconid body and wing morphology used in identification.
Life Cycle
Many life histories adapted to parasitizing hosts as diverse as aphids, bark beetles, and foliage-feeding caterpillars. Many species are egg-larval parasitoids, laying eggs within host eggs and then not developing until the host is in the larval stage. Unlike ichneumon wasps, many pupate in silken cocoons outside the body of the host and others spin cocoons entirely apart from the host.(4) Also unlike ichneumonid wasps, very few braconids use host pupae to complete their life cycles, except for fly parasitoids in Alysiinae and Opiinae.
Examples of life cycles:
Some are used for pest control, especially in agriculture.
Works Cited
1.Molecular phylogenetics of Braconidae (Hym.:Ichneumonoidea) based on multiple nuclear genes, and implications for classification
Sharonowsky B.J., Ashley P.G., Dowling P.G., Sharkey M.J. 2011. Systematic Entomology 36: 549-572.
2.Broad G. (2011) Identification key to the subfamilies of Ichneumonidae (Hymenoptera)
3.Manual of the New World Genera of the Family Braconidae (Hymenoptera)
Wharton, R.A., P.M. Marsh, M.J. Sharkey. 1997. International Society of Hymenopterists.
4.Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects
Norman F. Johnson, Charles A. Triplehorn. 2004. Brooks Cole.