Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua


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



Common names

Key reference(s) for identification

  DRYINIDAE   Olmi 2007
  EMBOLEMIDAE   Olmi 2007
  BETHYLIDAE   Sorg & Walker 1989; Goulet & Huber 1993; Gordh & Harris 1996; Berry 1998; Terayama 2003; Lanes & Azevedo 2008
  SCOLIIDAE scoliid wasps  
  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