Order Hymenoptera - Ants, Bees, and Wasps

Order Hymenoptera
This order contains many highly beneficial insects, from important parasitoids of crop pests to pollinators of plants.  They also exhibit interesting biology and behavior.  The winged Hymenoptera possess two pairs of membranous wings with relatively few veins.  Generally, they have chewing mouthparts, but may be modified to form a tonquelike structure (bees).  The antennae are fairly long.  The abdomen may be fused broadly to the thorax or attached narrowly by the propodeum.  This is a large order with a lot of variation with respect to morphological characters. 



Honey Bees
Honey bees are recognized by their golden brown coloration, two pairs of wings with characteristic wing venation, and absence of spurs on the hind tibiae.  Honey bees also have hairy eyes and chewing-lapping mouthparts.  Worker honey bees (females) have a pollen basket, called a corbicula, on their hind tibia.


Bumble Bees
The robust shape as well as the black and yellow coloration usually distinguishes bumble bees from other insects in the Apidae family.  Like honey bees, they also have a pollen basket and chewing-lapping mouthparts, but lack hairs on their eyes.


Here we use the term wasp in the general sense.  There are a number of different families that carry the common name wasp, including vespidae (yellow jackets, hornets, paper wasps), pompilidae (spider wasps), and sphecidae.  Wasps are recognized by their distinctive body shape (constriction between abdomen and thorax) and warning colorations.  They typically have well-developed wings, antennae, and chewing mouthparts


Ants are very common and widespread insects.  They are readily recognized by the lobe on the pedicel of the abdomen and elbowed antennae.  There are several subfamilies within Formicidae, including the army ants and fire ants.