Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
a family of aculeate hymenopterous (wasps) measuring 5–60 mm long. The coloration is black, often with yellow or red markings. The pronotum is narrow. There are about 12,000 species of sphecids, distributed throughout the world. Approximately 1,000 species are found in the USSR. Adult sphecids feed on nectar and pollen. Care for their young is characteristic of all species. The fertilized female builds a nest having one or several cells. Most commonly, the nest is a burrow. Some sphecids nest in cavities in bark or wood, and others build nests from clay. Larvae feed on a limited number of insect species and, infrequently, on arachnids. Most species paralyze their prey by stinging the nerve ganglia; killed prey would decompose before it could be eaten. The female fills each cell of the nest with food for the future larva, deposits one egg, and seals the cell. A few species feed their young throughout the larval state. Species of the genus Larra, which paralyze mole crickets, do not built nests but leave the paralyzed insect in its own shelter with an egg deposited on it.
Sphecids have no great practical significance. Digger wasps, which feed their larvae common honeybees, are harmful to beekeeping.
G. M. DLUSSKII