Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Ichneumonidae of New Zealand

This website provides a directory for diagnostic information and updates of scientific publications relating to Ichneumonidae for New Zealand.

The Ichneumonidae is the largest family of all the parasitic wasps, with an estimated 100 000 species in the world. To date just over 20 000 are described and classified into 38 subfamilies. This makes Ichneumonidae one of the largest families of organisms on Earth, and far exceeds the number of species of vertebrates.

Ichneumonids occur in all virtually all terrestrial habitats and are often abundant and conspicuous. There is tremendous biological diversity within the Ichneumonidae.

Ichneumonids are parasitoids and attack a wide range of hosts, most frequently the larvae and pupae of Lepidoptera, Diptera, Coleoptera or other Hymenoptera, although some also attack the immatures of other insects and spiders. Generally, an adult female lays an egg inside a host, and the ichneumonid larva feeds selectively within its host, avoiding damage to the host, which continues to feed and grow like a normal larva. When the host is almost fully grown, the ichneumonid larva consumes its insides entirely and breaks free from the host, then spins a cocoon under or next to the host's larval remains and pupates.

New Zealand is missing many of the subfamilies found overseas, and their diversity does not seem to be as great as might be expected. However, there are still 113 taxa named at present (76% are endemic, and 10 species have been introduced as biological control agents), but over 300 species have been tentatively recognised, with a total diversity estimated closer to 500 species. In New Zealand the most species-rich subfamilies are Ichneumoninae (85 spp.), Campopleginae (80 spp.), Cryptinae (50 spp.), and Tersilochinae (30 spp.).


This work has been funded by: Terrestrial Freshwater and Biodiversity Information System (TFBIS-#256), and Core funding for Crown Research Institutes from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Science and Innovation Group, through the Defining New Zealand’s Land Biota Portfolio.