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Family Braconidae - Braconid Wasps

Insect ID - Black insect with orange abdomen - Atanycolus Wasp (or Sawfly, or...?) ID Request Braconid from Willow Stem gall Braconid Tiny Sawfly? Braconid Wasp Wasp Wasp - Macrocentrus - female
Classification
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)
Numbers
>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)
Size
rarely over 15 mm; smallest 1-3 mm.
Identification
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). 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 jis 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.(3) 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:
Remarks
Identification keys to Braconidae such as Wharton et al. 1997(2) group cyclostome braconids within the first few couplets and then distinguish them into subfamilies further along in the key. According to the results of a phylogenetic study (Sharonowski et al. 2011(1) this practice corresponds well with strong molecular phylogenetic evidence that the group has descended from a unique common ancestor, and thus is monophyletic.. The key morphological evidence for this is the very character used in keys to define the group: the cyclostome "mouth." Also see this image. As can be seen from these 2 images, the cyclostome mouth is defined by the dorso-ventrally short clypeus and the concave labrum, bordered ventrally by the mandibles.
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.Manual of the New World Genera of the Family Braconidae (Hymenoptera)
Wharton, R.A., P.M. Marsh, M.J. Sharkey (Eds). 1997. International Society of Hymenopterists.
3.Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects
Norman F. Johnson, Charles A. Triplehorn. 2004. Brooks Cole.