The Aculeata is a monophyletic group composed of ants, bees, social wasps, and a number of other smaller groups. They are characterised by the modification of the ovipositor into a sting. Other Hymenoptera deposit their eggs via an ovipositor, but in Aculeata eggs are laid from the base of their sting and the ovipositor is used instead to inject venom into prey and for defence.
Aculeata are very poorly represented in New Zealand, with 65 genera and 135 species. Half of these species (and half of the genera) have become accidentally introduced through human trade, or a few (7) have been introduced for pollination.
However, the aculeates are among the best known Hymenoptera in New Zealand, with species-level revisions of the Pompilidae (Harris 1987), Sphecidae (includes Crabronidae) (Harris 1994), Dryinidae (Olmi 2007), and the Apoidea (Donovan 2007). Excellent information is also available on the ants from Don (2007) and ants and social wasps via the Landcare Research Invasive Invertebrate group.
These families can be identified using the Key to Hymenoptera in New Zealand.
New Zealand Aculeata groups
Key reference(s) for identification
|BETHYLIDAE||Sorg & Walker 1989; Goulet & Huber 1993; Gordh & Harris 1996; Berry 1998; Terayama 2003; Lanes & Azevedo 2008|
|FORMICIDAE||ants||Don 2007; Key to the ants of New Zealand|
|POMPILIDAE||spider-hunting wasps||Harris 1987|
|VESPIDAE||social wasps||Wasp identification|
|APOIDEA||SPHECIDAE||digger wasps||Harris 1994|
|CRABRONIDAE||mason wasp, square- headed wasp, black cockroach hunter||Harris 1994|
|APIDAE||honeybee, bumblebees||Donovan 2007|
|COLLETIDAE||plasterer bees||Donovan 2007|
|HALICTIDAE||sweat bees||Donovan 2007|
|MEGACHILIDAE||leafcutter bees||Donovan 2007|