ICHNEUMONIDAE: : Sphecophaga Westwood 1840
Diagnosis:Characteristics of Sphecophaga include: 1. Body size <10mm; 2. Position of spiracle on T1 clearly behind the centre; 3. Shape of aerolet in forewing open (pentagonal); 4. Colour of face only black; 5. Metasoma compressed dorsal-ventrally; 6. Size of ocelli small; 7. Length of antennae shorter than body; 8. Length of ovipositor barely visible to short; 9. Wings present; 10. Colour of wings hyaline (clear); 11. Sternaulus absent to short; less than 0.5x length mesopleuron (and not well defined); 12. Shape of face in lateral view flat or only weakly bulging; 13. Sternite on T1 (viewed laterally) not extending past spiracle; 14. Shape of T1 (viewed laterally) evenly curved; 15. Number of teeth in mandibles 2; 16. Patterns on metasoma same colour throughout; 17. Length of T1 vs T2 subequal in length to T1 longer than T2; 18. Sculpture on mesoscutum densely and finely pitted; 19. Width of T1 (viewed dorsally) gradually widening from anterior to posterior; 20. Glymma on T1 absent; 21. Sculpture on metasoma smooth with a semi-glossy or satin appearance at least on T2; 22. Propodeum very short (not reaching beyond coxal insertion.
Distribution in NZ
South Island: MB, MC.
Species in NZOne species, Sphecophaga vesparum vesparum (Ratzeburg 1852) introduced for biological control.
Biology & hostsThis species was introduced into New Zealand in 1980-1981 for biological control of Vespula germanica and V. vulgaris . Despite very large numbers being released (>1000’s per site), it appears to have only established at two sites in Canterbury and Marlborough. It is almost never collected in the field.
Another subspecies S. vesparum burra (Cresson,1869) was released in 1979-1980, but it is not considered to have established.
A very large amount of effort went into the study, release, and monitoring of Sphecophaga because of the detrimental nature of Vespula wasps (Common and German wasps) in New Zealand. Consequently, there is a large amount of scientific literature on its biology, and thus it is one of the best known parastioids in New Zealand.
Sources of informationBarlow ND, Beggs JR, Moller H. 1998. Spread of the wasp parasitoid Sphecophaga vesparum vesparum following its release in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 22(2): 205-208.
Barlow ND, Moller H, Beggs JR. 1996. A model for the effect of Sphecophaga vesparum vesparum as a biological control agent of the common wasp in New Zealand. Journal of Applied Ecology 33: 31-34.
Beggs JR; Harris RJ. 2000. Can the wasp parasitoid Sphecophaga vesparum significantly reduce the density of Vespula wasps? New Zealand Journal of Zoology 27: 73-74.
Beggs JR, Harris RJ, Read PEC. 1996. Invasion success of the wasp parasitoid Sphecophaga vesparum vesparum (Curtis) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 23: 1-9.
Beggs JR, Rees JS, Harris RJ. 2002. No evidence for establishment of the wasp parasitoid, Sphecophaga vesparum burra (Cresson) (Hymenoptera : Ichneumonidae) at two sites in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 29: 205-211.
Berry JA, Harris RJ, Read PEC, Donovan BJ. 1997. Morphological and colour differences between subspecies of Sphecophaga vesparum (Curtis) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 24: 35-46.
Donovan BJ. 1989. Potential enemies of the introduced wasp parasitoid Sphecophaga vesparum (Hymneoptera: Ichneumonidae) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 16: 365-367.
Donovan BJ. 1991. Life cycle of Sphecophaga vesparum (Curtis) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae), a parasitoid of some vespid wasps. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 18: 181-192.
Donovan BJ, Read PEC. 1987. Attempted biological control of social wasps, Vespula spp. (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) with Sphecophaga vesparum (Curtis) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 14 : 329-335.
Donovan BJ, Moller H, Plunkett GM, Read PEC, Tilley JAV. 1989. Release and recovery of the introduced wasp parasitoid, Sphecophaga vesparum vesparum (Curtis) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 16: 355-364.
Harris RJ, Rose EAF. 1999. White and yellow cocoon production in the vespid parasitoid Sphecophaga vesparum (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 26: 89-96.
Moller H, Plunkett, GM, Tilley JAV, Toft RJ, Beggs JR. 1991. Establishment of the wasp parasitoid, Sphecophaga vesparum (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae), in New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 18: 199-208.
Toft RJ, Malham JP, Beggs JR. 1999. Mortality and emergence pattern of over-wintering cocoons of the wasp parasitoid Sphecophaga vesparum vesparum (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) in New Zealand. Environmental Entomology 28 (1): 9-13.
CitationWard DF & Schnitzler FR. 2013. Ichneumonidae of New Zealand. Genus Sphecophaga http://ichneumonidae.landcareresearch.co.nz
Accessed: 6 July 2020