Vespidae of India

Vespidae (Hymenoptera : Vespoidea)

The family Vespidae, with 5000+ species worldwide, is one of the biggest families within the superfamily Vespoidea. It is a cosmopolitan family and consists of six extant subfamilies: Euparagiinae, Eumeninae, Masarinae, Polistinae, Stenogastrinae and Vespinae. The members of the family Vespidae are mostly predatory in nature and are commonly known as potter wasps (Eumeninae), pollen wasps (Masarinae), paper wasps (Polistinae), hover wasps (Stenogastrinae), and yellow jackets and hornets (Vespinae). They are important pest control agents in agro ecosystems and are one of nature’s best architects owing to their skill in making a variety of nests.


Indian Vespidae is represented by five subfamilies: Eumeninae, Masarinae, Polistinae, Stenogastrinae and Vespinae; of which Polistinae, Stenogastrinae, and Vespinae are comprised of social vespids and Eumeninae and Masarinae are comprised of solitary vespids. Eumeninae and Masarinae lead solitary lives and make a variety of nests ranging from simple burrows that use pre-exisiting cavities to beautiful mud or clay nests. Social vespids lead a social life in colonies. Each colony consists of at least one queen (fertile female), drones (males) and workers (sterile females).


The taxonomic studies on Indian vespids began with publication of Bingham’s Fauna of British India volume in 1897. Since then numerous research articles have been published on taxonomy and biogeographic distribution of Indian vespids. Notable contributors to study of the Indian vespid fauna are: van der Vecht (1963, 1966), Archer (1989, 1999), Yamane (1987), Das & Gupta (1984, 1989), Gusenleitner (1996-2013), Carpenter (1996 to present), Jonathan (1996-2003), Kundu (1996-2010), Girish Kumar (2010 to present), and Pannure (2016 to present). Recently the checklist of Indian Vespidae was published by Gawas et al. (2020).


The Vespidae database contains list of all the 288 species of Vespidae found in India along with their valid taxonomic classification, geographical distribution within and outside India with real time distribution map along with referenced literature.