Vespidae of India

Vespidae (Hymenoptera : Vespoidea)

Family Vespidae

Indian Vespid fauna is represented by 288 species belonging to 60 genera across 5 subfamilies: Eumeninae, Masarinae, Polisitnae, Stenogastrinae and Vespinae. Eumeninae is the largest subfamily with 193 species in 48 genera, followed by Polistinae with 62 species in 4 genera, Vespinae with 26 species in 4 genera, Stenogastrinae with 6 species in 3 genera and Masarinae with 1 genus and 1 species. Vespid wasps are characterised by forewing with first discal cell (1D) longer than subbasal cell, longitudinally folded forewing and emarginate eyes.


Subfamily Eumeninae
Wasps of subfamily Eumeninae are commonly called as potter wasps and they lead a solitary life. Eumeninae females make variety of nests such as: mud or clay nests, wood borings, pre-existing cavities and some nests in soil. Based on their nesting behaviours potter wasps are categorised into 3 types: excavators, renters and builders. Majority of potter wasps are mass provisioners (they provide cells with paralysed insect prey as food) whereas very few practices progressive provisioning. They mostly feed on Lepidoptera and Coleoptera larvae and therefore are important biocontrol agents of agricultural pests. Potter wasps are characterised by cleft tarsal claws and mesoscutum with parategula.


Subfamily Polistinae
Wasps of subfamily Polistinae are commonly called paper wasps because they make nest out of plant fibres. They chew and process wood fibres using their saliva and make pulp. This pulp is than used to make nest. Paper wasp nest is made up of single layer of comb with hexagonal cells and pedicle by which it is attached to substratum. They are eusocial in nature and live in colony. Paper wasp colony consists of queen (fertile female), workers (sterile females) and drones (fertile males). Like Eumeninae paper wasps are also excellent bio control agents. They are characterised by presence of jugal lobe on hind wing and petiolate or less-sessile metasoma.


Subfamily Stenogastrinae
Wasps of subfamily Stenogastrinae are commonly called hover wasps because of their hovering flight. They are eusocial and live in small colonies. Their make variety of nests. Unlike other vespids they don’t have emarginate eyes and don’t fold their forewings longitudinally when at rest. They are characterised by having pronotal lobe (pI) separated from tegula (tg) by a distance greater than length of lobe.


Subfamily Vespinae
Wasps of subfamily Vespinae are commonly called as hornets and yellow-jackets. They are eusocial and live in large colonies. Their nest is made up of multiple layers of combs and enclosed by an envelope. They are characterised by having metacoxa with dorsal longitudinal carina and tergum 1 abruptly declivous anteriorly.