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Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, ants and bees) are one of the most morphologically and ecologically diverse insect orders worldwide.
[Vespula] face.

[Vespula] face.

They are one of the four mega-diverse insect orders, with over 100 000 described species, and are extremely beneficial to humans - as pollinators and natural biological control agents (reducing the populations of pest insects). However, the New Zealand hymenopteran fauna is extremely poorly known. Currently there are around 900 described species in 47 families, and a further 950 or so undescribed or undetermined species recognised. However, the true number of hymenopteran species in New Zealand could be in excess of 3000.

Hymenoptera curation and research in the NZAC

The taxonomy, systematics, biogeography and biology of New Zealand Hymenoptera is presented in scientific journals and in the Fauna of New Zealand series. Web-based delivery includes a fully referenced checklist of the species of Hymenoptera, information on collection management and type material, and keys to taxa. A diagnostic service is available for the identification of Hymenoptera (and other invertebrates).

Past, present and future research include:

  • Providing information about the natural biodiversity of Hymenoptera in New Zealand.
  • Research into biological control and IPM programmes using parasitoids with the agricultural and forestry industries.
  • Assessment of the risks posed by accidentally introduced species and deliberately introduced biological control agents to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna.

For the next few years we are focused on:

  • Providing higher level keys for Hymenoptera in New Zealand, including a family level key and subfamily keys for Ichneumoniodea.
  • For Aculeata - transferring information held in hard-copy and collection formats into web-based information, including; image libraries, web-based species level keys and biological information captured from collection based specimens.


Ward DF, Eary JW, Schnitzler F-R, Hitchmough RA, StringerI.A.N. 2012. The conservation status of New Zealand Hymenoptera. New Zealand entomologist 35(2): 116-119.

Ward D 2011. Poecilocryptus zealandicus sp. n. (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae: Labeninae) from New Zealand. New Zealand entomologist 34(1): 37-39.

Smith MA, Fernández-Triana JL, van Achterberg K, Goulet H, Hallwachs W, Hrcek J, Huber JT, Janzen DH, Miller S, Quicke DLJ, Rodriguez J, Sharkey MJ, Ward D, Whitfield JB, Zaldivar-Riverón A, Herbert PDN 2010. [Abstract] An inordinate fondness for parasitoid wasps : DNA barcoding data from a global array of projects. Proceedings: 7th International Conference of Hymenopterists, Köszeg, Hungary, 20-26 June, 2010. Pp. 56-57.

Ward DF 2005. Changes to the classification of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Weta 30: 16-18.

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