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wingless wasp ant mimic?? - Metanotalia maderensis

wingless wasp ant mimic?? - Metanotalia maderensis
Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California, USA
March 29, 2012
Size: 2mm
Coolest find this week... unforunately it zipped around at high speed and never allowed an opening for a sharper photo. It looks like a wingless wasp with a weird shaped body, a visible ovipositor (female?), and a visible midtibial spur ... antenna segmentation can't be discerned from any of these shots. Would love a family level ID if that's possible at all?

Moved from Encyrtids.

thanks for the addition, colleagues

This is ...
... Metanotalia maderensis. Parasitoid of mealybugs, originally described from Madeira, but also recorded from Europe, Asia, New Zealand and California. It can be quite common in grasses in California. As far as I know, there are only females of this species.

Moved from ID Request.

It is an encyrtid. Unfortunat
It is an encyrtid. Unfortunately, I have never worked with them sufficiently to sight id most to genus. Someone familiar with the group should be able to. Sort of difficult to give good characters that will enable one to differentiate brachypterous encyrtids from eupelmids, but notice in the image the base of the middle legs are about mid way between the front and hind legs. In eupelmids the base of the midlegs would be much closer to the hind legs, which is typical of chalcidoids. The condition in encyrtids is because the middle coxae are advanced forward on the thorax (a unique feature of the family). Another feature, although not readily visible in this image, is that the abdominal cerci (small sensory plates bearing long setae on the side of the penultimate abdominal tergum) are advanced to about the posterior third of the abdomen. In eupelmids they would be almost at the apex of the abdomen. Advanced cerci are another feature of encyrtids.

thanks again, Gary -- very enlightening

Appears to be either an encyrtid or eupelmid female based on this view alone. The shape of the flattened scutum suggests a eupelmid to me. Female eupelmids are often wingless or brachyopterous.

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