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a family of parasitic insects of the order Hymenoptera. Body length, 0.4—5 cm; the abdomen and thorax have movable segments. Most species have well-developed wings; the females have an ovipositor, which protrudes outward and is quite long in some species.
Approximately 1, 250 genera (more than 60, 000 species) of ichneumon flies are found throughout the world. Representatives of about 400 genera are encountered in the USSR. The female seeks an animal host and deposits its eggs either on or in the host’s body. The larvae develop as internal or external parasites of the larvae or pupae of other insects or, less commonly, of spiders. By the completion of their development, the larvae have completely destroyed the internal organs of the host. Among the Ichneumonidae are a few hyperparasites, which parasitize the parasites of other insects. Adults feed primarily on flower nectar. The majority are active during the day; some species fly at night and are attracted to light.
Ichneumon flies play an important role in limiting the insect population and are used in the biological control of harmful insects. Sometimes the Russian common name for the Ichneumonidae, naezdniki, is used to designate representatives of other groups of parasitic Hymenoptera, such as the braconids, proctotrupids, and chalcids.
REFERENCESuitmen, Kh. Biologicheskii metod bor’by s vrednymi nasekomymi i sornymi rasteniiami. Moscow, 1964.
G. A. VIKTOROV