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Family Braconidae - Braconid Wasps

Braconid ex Phytoliriomyza melampyga - female Braconid Wasp - Macrocentrus marginator - female wasp Microgastrine? - female Mummy Wasp - Aleiodes parasite of tussock moth caterpillar Unidentified Braconid - female tiny wasp
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon ("Parasitica" - Parasitoid Wasps)
Superfamily Ichneumonoidea (Braconid and Ichneumonid Wasps)
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; close to 20,000 spp. in >1000 genera of ~50 subfamilies worldwide. Ghahari et al. (2003) estimate 120,000 species.
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)
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 vein plan. Note that there is no second recurrent vein, as in Ichneumonidae.
Female ovipositor from very long to short
For more info see also Achterberg (1993)(2) and Wharton, Marsh, & Sharkey (1997)(3)
Diagrams of braconid body and wing morphology in (4)
Larval hosts include a variety of immature insects, which vary by group. A few common orders for hosts include Coleoptera, Diptera, and Lepidoptera; however, this is not exhaustive.
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.(5) 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:

Interestingly, phytophagous primary gall-forming species exist, at least in the subfamily Doryctinae (Marsh, 1991).
Molecular evidence supports the monophyly of the cluster of subfamilies with cyclostome "mouth"(1) defined by the dorsoventrally short clypeus and the concave labrum, bordered ventrally by the mandibles:

Some species are used for pest control, especially in agriculture.
Print References
Marsh, P. M. 1991. Description of a phytophagous doryctinae braconid from Brazil (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington 93:92-95.
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.Illustrated Key to the Subfamilies of the Braconidae
Cornelis van Achterberg. 1993. Zoologische Verhandelingen, 283(1): 1-189.
3.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.
4.A Revision of the Tetrasphaeropyx Ashm. Lineage of the Genus Aleiodes Wesmael (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Rogadinae)
Fortier, Joseph C. 2009. Magnolia Press.
5.Borror and DeLong's Introduction to the Study of Insects
Norman F. Johnson, Charles A. Triplehorn. 2004. Brooks Cole.