Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

FNZ 58 - Alysiinae (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Braconidae) - Popular summary

Berry, JA 2007. Alysiinae (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Fauna of New Zealand 58, 95 pages.
( ISSN 0111-5383 (print), ; no. 58. ISBN 978-0-478-09390-2 (print) ). Published 07 Sep 2007

Popular summary


Alysiines are small braconid wasps that occur throughout the world. The subfamily is quite distinctive, and can be recognised by their large, outwardly-directed and non-overlapping mandibles, which they use to escape from the puparium (cocoon) of their host.

All alysiines are endoparasitoids (internal parasitoids) of flies. The adult female lays her eggs into the egg or larva of the host fly, and her progeny emerge from the host puparium. Alysiines can play an important role in the regulation of pest insects, and one species has been deliberately introduced for the biological control of blowflies.

Twenty-one species of alysiines are recorded. Of these, 13 are new species and four are described species from other countries that have not previously been recorded from New Zealand. About three-quarters of the species are endemic, that is, known from nowhere else in the world. The first alysiine braconid reported from New Zealand was Alysia stramineipes, which was described from the South Island in 1898, but this species has now been reclassified in a different braconid subfamily (Helconinae). Therefore the first true alysiine described from New Zealand was Phaenocarpa antipoda, described from the Chatham Islands in 1900.

The subfamily is divided into two tribes, the Dacnusini and the Alysiini. Almost all Dacnusini are parasitoids of leaf and stem mining dipterans, usually Agromyzidae, but Alysiini attack a wide range of dipteran hosts from at least 20 different families.

The New Zealand dacnusine fauna is depauperate, consisting of five species in three genera; one of which is introduced. The Alysiini are more speciose: 16 species in five genera are recorded, the majority of which (11 species) are not known outside of New Zealand. The European species Alysia manducator was introduced into New Zealand in 1926 for the control of blowflies. It attacks six species of calliphorids in New Zealand, including two endemic species. The other five introduced Alysiini are either European species, which probably came into New Zealand accidentally, along with their hosts; or in one case an Australian species.