Cuckoo Wasps

Cuckoo Wasps

 

wasps of the families Chrysididae and Cleptidae of the order Hymenoptera. Cuckoo wasps have a characteristic metallic body coloring and a simplified wing vein pattern. The poison glands found in most wasps are absent in some cuckoo wasps. The insects are 5–15 mm long. More than 1,500 species are known. They are widely distributed and are especially richly represented in the tropics; in the USSR they are found in Transcaucasia and the deserts of Middle Asia. Cuckoo wasps of the family Chrysididae are parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other members of the order Hymenoptera (the families Apidae, Vespidae, and Sphecidae); those of the family Cleptidae are parasites on the larvae of sawflies. When in danger, many cuckoo wasps curl up.

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Metallic, vibrant colors, similar to those of dolichopodid flies, are also found in other fast-flying insects, such as hairstreak butterflies (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae: Theclinae), orchid bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Euglossinae), cuckoo wasps (Hymenoptera: Chrysididae), and some fast flying skippers (e.