Hymenoptera Click to enlarge image
Wasp (Order Hymenoptera) Image: Andrew Howells
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

Wasps are a diverse group of insects. In Australia alone there are over 12,000 species, ranging from the tiny diapriid wasps, which are barely visible to the naked eye, to the spider wasps and cicada-killer wasps, capable of taking large prey. Most wasps have carnivorous larvae that feed on other insects and spiders. The adults provide food for them by capturing prey or by laying the egg on or near the food source, which might be an egg, larva or pupa of another insect.

Features of wasps:

  • The egg-laying structures (ovipositors) in some wasps are modified into stingers.
  • Adults generally feed on nectar and can pollinate flowers in the process.
  • Some are hyper-parasites, which use other parasitic wasps' larvae or hosts to feed their young.
  • Many wasps can act as biological control agents on crop pests.
  • Most native species are solitary, but a few, such as the paper wasps, form colonies.

For enquiries relating to these insects in the Australian Museum collection please contact the Collection Manager.