Order Hymenoptera (Bees, Wasps, Ants, and Sawflies) in the Christopher B. Smith Preserve

Order Hymenoptera Characteristics: Ranging in size from very small to quite large, and identified as one of the largest insect orders, more than 130,000 species have been described.

The name "Hymenoptera" is derived from the Greek word "hymen" meaning "membrane" and "pteron" meaning wing. Hymenopterans have two pairs of wings, or no wings at all. If winged, forewings are larger than hindwings and hindwings are connected to forewings by a series of hooks.

Hymenopterans have large compound eyes and usually three ocelli. Antennae have ten or more segments and are longer than the head, but usually not longer than the head and thorax combined. All hymenopterans have chewing or chewing-lapping mouthparts. Tarsi are usually five-segmented. Each female has a well-developed ovipositor for inserting eggs. Sometimes the ovipositor is modified into a stinger for defense or to immobilize prey. All hymenopterans have complete metamorphosis (egg, larval, pupa, adult).

Interactions in the Smith Preserve: Various species are herbivores, pollinators, parasitoids, predators, and decomposers. Some live in symbiotic relationships with other organisms (e.g. attine ants farm fungi in subterranean gardens). As a result of their feeding behavior, hymenopterans keep populations of other organisms in check. Members of this order are a food source for larger animals.

 
Family
Species Name
Common Name
Andrenidae
Perdita sp.
Aphelinidae
Encarsia sp.
Aphelinidae
Centrodora sp.
Aphelinidae
Coccobius sp.
Aphelinidae
Coccophagus sp.
Apidae
Apis mellifera
Apidae
Ceratina floridana
Apidae
Euglossa dilemma
Apidae
Nomada fervida
Apidae
Triepeolus rufithorax
Braconidae
Euphoriella sp.
Braconidae
Unknown
Braconidae
Unknown
Braconidae
Unknown
Ceraphronidae
Unknown
Crabronidae
Bembix sp.
Crabronidae
Philanthus sp.
Crabronidae
Sticia carolina
Cynipidae
Amphibolips murata
Cynipidae
Amphibolips spinosa
Cynipidae
Unknown
Cynipidae
Unknown
Cynipidae
Unknown
Cynipidae
Andricus quercusfoliatus
Dryinidae
Unknown
Encyrtidae
Acerophagus sp.
Encyrtidae
Anagyrus sp.
Eulophidae
Horismenus sp.
Eulophidae
Melittobia sp. ?
Eulophidae
Unknown
Formicidae
Brachymyrmex deplis
Formicidae
Brachymyrmex obscurior
Formicidae
Brachymyrmex patagonicus
Formicidae
Camponotus floridanus
Formicidae
Camponotus planatus
Formicidae
Camponotus sexguttatus
Formicidae
Camponotus tortuganus
Formicidae
Camponotus sp.
Formicidae
Cardiocondyla emeryi
Formicidae
Cardiocondyla obscurior
Formicidae
Crematogaster ashmeadi
Formicidae
Cyphomyrmex sp.
Formicidae
Cyphomyrmex sp.
Formicidae
Dorymyrmex bureni
Formicidae
Monomorium floricola
Formicidae
Monomorium viridum
Formicidae
Nylanderia bourbonica
Formicidae
Nylanderia steinheili
Formicidae
Odontomachus ruginodis
Formicidae
Paratrechina longicornis
Formicidae
Pheidole metallescens
Formicidae
Pheidole moerens
Formicidae
Pheidole sp.
Formicidae
Pheidole tysoni
Formicidae
Pseudomyrmex gracilis
Formicidae
Pseudomyrmex sp.
Formicidae
Solenopsis geminata
Formicidae
Solenopsis invicta
Formicidae
Strumigenys eggersi
Formicidae
Tapinoma melanocephalum
Formicidae
Technomyrmex difficilis
Formicidae
Trachymyrmex septentronalis
Formicidae
Wasmannia auropunctata
Halictidae
Agapostemon splendens
Megachilidae
Coelioxys sp.
Megachilidae
Coelioxys sp.
Megachilidae
Lithurgopsis gibbosa
Megachilidae
Megachile pseudobrevis
Megachilidae
Megachile umbripennis
Megachilidae
Megachile (subgenus Litomegachile
Megachilidae
Unknown
Mymaridae
Camptoptera sp.
Mymaridae
Gonatocerus sp.
Mymaridae
Unknown
Mymarommatidae
Unknown
Platygastridae
Dyscritobaeus sp.
Platygastridae
Embidobia sp.
Platygastridae
Gryon sp.
Platygastridae
Idris sp.
Platygastridae
Trimorus sp.
Platygastridae
Unknown
Platygastridae
Unknown
Platygastridae
Unknown
Pteromalidae
Unknown
Pteromalidae
Unknown
Pteromalidae
Unknown
Pteromalidae
Unknown
Pteromalidae
Unknown
Scoliidae
Campsomeris dorsata
Scoliidae
Campsomeris trifasciata
Scoliidae
Scolia nobilitata
Signiphoridae
Unknown
Sphecidae
Ammophilia procera
Sphecidae
Prionyx sp.
Sphecidae
Sphex sp.
Thynnidae
Myzinum sp.
Tiphiidae
Tiphia sp.
Torymidae
Monodontomerus sp.
Torymidae
Torymus sp.
Torymidae
Torymus sp.
Trichogrammatidae
Oligosita sp.
Trichogrammatidae
Unknown
Trichogrammatidae
Unknown
Vespidae
Mischocyttarus mexicanus
Vespidae
Pachodynerus erynnis
Vespidae
Polistes dorsalis
Vespidae
Polistes major major
Vespidae
Zethus slossonae
Vespidae
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown
Unknown

 

Family Andrenidae

Perdita sp. ... Mining Bee

Although there are over 700 recognized species and subspecies in North America, only 17 species of Perdita live in Florida.

Predita spp. are small (2 to 10 mm); many are brightly colored with metallic reflections and/or white or yellow markings. Most species are very limited in the kind of plants from with they collect pollen, limiting themselves to a few closely related species.

The tiny individual shown here was feeding on Balduina angustifolia (Yellow Buttons). For scale, the yellow dots on its body are pollen grains.

Perdita bees are mining bees that create mounds of dirt and/or sand when they excavate their nests. Although they are solitary bees, if they find prime habitat, they have been known to nest in large aggregations.

They do not line the inside walls of their nests with leaves like most ground bees do, instead they cover the pollen stored in their nests with substances they secrete. This prevents the pollen from molding.

The bee in these photographs was identified to its genus by John S. Ascher, Contributing Editor to <Bugguide.net>, Hosted by Iowa State University Entomology Department, on November 17, 2014.

By using an online key for genus Perdita, the webmaster of this site suspects that the species is Perdita gerhardi. Host plants for this species are listed as members of families Asteraceae, Fabaceae, and Lamiaceae. Balduina angustifolia is a member of Family Astraceae. The identification of this species needs to be confirmed by an expert.

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Family Aphelinidae

Encarsia sp. ... Armored Scale Parasitic Wasp

On December 17, 2014, this ~.3 mm long wasp was living in leaf litter under a citrus tree in the hammock in the northeast corner of the Smith Preserve. It was extracted from the leaf litter using a Berlese funnel. Photographs were produced using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 23, 2015, this wasp was identified as a species in either Family Trichogrammatidae or Family Aphelinidae by Dr. John Huber, Research Scientist and Chalcid Wasp Taxonomist with the Canadian National Collection of Insects in Ottawa, Canada. In an e-mail, Dr. Huber stated "Trichogrammatidae have 3-segmented tarsi. Aphelinidae have 4 or 5. I can’t see details (image too fuzzy)."

On 28 October, 2015, the species was identified as a species of the genus Encarsia. According to Zachary Lahey, Contributor to <BugGuide.net> and a graduate student with the Department of Entomology, Southwest Florida Research and Education Center University of Florida, "The antenna are 6-segmented, and there is no 'wasp-waist' (a characteristic found in the family Aphelinidae). Also, based on the wings, this species probably falls into the Encarsia citrina group, which are parasitoids of armored scale insects (Diaspididae)." [Note: Diaspidids have been found in the Smith Preserve.]

Lahey went on to say, "Mymarids can have similar looking wings, but they have more segments in the antenna and there are other differences as well."

 

Additional photographs (shown below) were taken of this specimen and inadvertently sent for identification to <BugGuide.net> in January, 2017.

On January 6, 2017, Dr.John Huber (CNCI) examined these pictures and thinks "it is actually fam. Aphelinidae (Chalcidoidea), most likely the genus Encarsia Foerst., the members of which attack Diaspididae and Aleyrodidae. The association with citrus confirms the case."

Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>, pointed out "about the antennae in Encarsia, the antennae excluding the radical are always 8-segmented in the female, sometimes 7-segmented in the male when two apical segments are fused (not 6-segmented). This is difficult to see in your images, but appears to be the case."

There are ~1,200 known species of Aphelinid wasps worldwide. Most are solitary parasitoids that lay eggs inside or outside the host. According to <BugGuide.net>, there are 50 species of Encarsia in our area and ~400 worldwide. Several have been introduced as biocontrols.

Also according to <BugGuide.net>, Escarsia spp. are primary parasitoids, mostly of whiteflies (Aleyrodidae) and scale insects (Diaspididae). A few attack other insects, such as aphids, lepidopteran eggs, and shield-back bugs (Plataspidae).

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Family Aphelinidae

Centrodora sp. ... Parasitic Wasp

On December 30, 2015, this 1 mm long, female, parasitic wasp was captured with a sweep net in low, dry vegetation growing along the gopher tortoise fence in the northeast quadrant of the Smith Preserve. Note the long stinger on the abdomen of this female. She would use this to insert eggs into host insects.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On February 11, 2016, the wasp family was identified by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are 210 species in 14 genera in this family in our area. Size is 1 mm or less, color is yellowish-brown, antennae have 8 or fewer segments, tarsi are generally 5 segmented, and the abdomen is broadly joined to the thorax.

Females always develop as primary endoparasitoids of homopterous hosts (usually coccoids, ie.. scales). Males may be primary ectoparasitoids of Homoptera, hyperparasitoids of other chalcidoid larvae or pupae within their homopterous hosts, or primary endoparasitoids of lepidopteran eggs.

On March 4, 2016, the genus was identified by Zachary Lahey, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. His comment: "Good find!"

According to <BugGuide,net>, there are five species in the genus in our area and 55 species worldwide.

Members of the genus Centrodora are egg parasites of orthopterans (Family Acrididae and Family Tettigoniidae), pupae parasites of dipterans (Family Cecidomyiidae), larvae and pupae parasites of hymenopterans (Family Dryinidae), and egg parasites of homopterans (Families Cercopidae, Cicadellidae, Cicadidae, Fulgoridae, Membracidae, and Ricaniidae).

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Family Aphelinidae

Coccobius sp. ... Armored Scale Parasitic Wasp

On November 17, 2015, this .6mm long wasp was caught in a pit trap that had been placed under a laurel oak tree just north of Smith Preserve Way.

Two photographs were submitted for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On March 4, 2016, the family name, Aphelinidae, was identified by Zachary Lahey, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. He stated. "95% sure this is a Coccobius. How many tarsal segments are there?"

The third photograph was submitted to <BugGuide.net> for Lahey's examination. The webmaster thinks she sees 5 segments, but isn't sure.

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are ~100 species worldwide in genus Coccobius. Most species are in the old world tropics. All are parasitoids of armored scales in Family Diaspididae.

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Family Aphelinidae

Coccophagus sp. ... Soft Scale Parasitic Wasp

On November 15, 2016, this 1 mm long parasitic wasp was captured in a yellow bowl trap that had been left overnight under a severely trimmed Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) in the northwest quadrant of the Smith Preserve, just south of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. Note the very distinctive markings on the abdomen.

On January 7, 2017, the family was identified by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to information posted at <BugGuide.net>, members of Family Aphelinidae are 1 mm or less. They generally have 5-segmented tarsi, antennae with eight or less segments, and forewing venation that is distinctive. They also have large eyes, and wings with setal tracts and large marginal veins. [Setae are fine hairs].They are yellowish-brown in color and the thorax and abdomen are broadly joined.

Also according to <BugGuide.net>, females always develop as primary endoparasitoids of homopterous hosts (usually coccoids); males may be primary ectoparasitoids of Homoptera, hyperparasitoids of other chalcidoid larvae or pupae within their homopterous hosts, or primary endoparasitoids of lepidopteran eggs.

On August 23, 2017, this specimen was identified as a Coccophagus sp. female by Zachary Lahey, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. According to <BugGuide.net>, there are ~260 species in this genus worldwide. "They are used as biocontrol against several species of soft scales."

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Family Apidae

Apis mellifera ... Honey Bee

Members of Family Apidae are medium to large (20 to 40 mm). As shown in the first photograph, some species, like Apis mellifera, have enlarged and flattened hind leg structures (the tibae and first tarsal segments), covered with hairs to form "pollen baskets."

Each Apidae species has a tongue that is wide at the base and long and slender at the tip. At the tip of the abdomen, a 'stinger' may protrude. In order to defend itself from attack, a honey bee's defense is a barbed stinger that becomes embedded into the skin of an attacking animal. Once the stinger is lost, the individual dies.

Honeybees are social insects that live in hives. The social structure in a hive consists of a queen, her daughters, and males (drones). Her daughters, the workers, begin their adult lives by working inside the hive: cleaning cells, tending larvae and the queen, and ventilating the hive with their beating wings. After about ten days, they move to another task: storing nectar and pollen brought to the hive by other workers. Next they leave the hive and collect flower nectar and pollen.

As shown in the second photograph, honey bees collect nectar by sticking their tongues inside flowers. Nectar is refined by workers in the hive to create honey.

Foraging bees rake pollen from flowers with their feet, comb it from the feathery hairs that cover their bodies, and pack it into the pollen baskets on their hind legs. In the third photograph, a worker is headed back to the hive with packed pollen baskets. Inside the hive, the pollen will be passed off to other workers to feed to the larvae.

A new honey bee colony is created when a queen leaves the hive with other colony members as a swarm. Workers that stay behind raise a new queen who mates in flight outside the nest with several drones from her own or nearby hives.

Apis mellifera was originally brought to Florida in colonial times and is considered the smallest European domestic livestock. Today there are both wild and domestic hives. The photograph at left, taken in March 2012 shows a huge, healthy wild hive that appeared in the Smith Preserve. But, by April 2013, the hive had fallen to the ground, as shown below. Very few bees were present. The cause of the hive collapse in unknown.

In recent years, Apis mellifera populations are disappearing. Bees seem to just abandon their hives never to return. In 2006, this phenomenon was given the name, "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD). Estimates are that 1/3 of all colonies in the United States have vanished. The cause could be a combination of things that are making bees sick, including pesticide exposure, invasive parasitic mites, inadequate food supply, and/or a new virus that targets honey bee immune systems. It is unknown whether or not the Smith Preserve hive suffered from CCD.

CCD is a serious problem. Honeybees are necessary for the pollination of many fruits, nuts, vegetables, and field crops. Without bees to pollinate these plants, the United States could lose $15 billion in crop production.

Honey bees have several large natural predators, including African honey badgers and black bears. Neither of these creatures have been seen in the Smith Preserve.

 

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Family Apidae

Ceratina floridana ... Florida Ceratina

There are 21 species of Ceratina in America, north of Mexico. Most members of the genus are dark, and some, like the individual shown here, are metallic. Most have some yellow markings. Since these bees are small, metallic, and have similar wing venation to sweat bees, they are commonly mistaken for sweat bees (Family Halictidae). However, Ceratina sp. have a longer glossum (tongue) and the hindwings have a tiny lobe that Halictids lack.

Only three members of Genus Ceratina live in Florida, Ceratina cockerelli, Ceratina dupla, and Ceratina floridana. The three species can be distinguished from one another by their size, color, texture and hind femur structural differences. C. cockerelli is smaller (3 to 4.5 mm long); its head and thorax are mostly black; its abdomen is black with brown areas; and its scutum (dorsal portion of the thorax) is polished (without punctures.) As shown in these photographs, this individual is dark metallic blue, not black, and the head and scutum have numerous distinct punctures. Both C. dupla and C. floridana have these features. The individuals in these photographs were identified as Ceratina floridana on September 22, 2013 by John S. Ascher, Contributing Editor of <bugguid.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

Closely related to carpenter bees, these small carpenter bees make nests in the pith of dead twigs and are good pollinators. The bees in these photographs were collecting pollen from Opuntia humifusa (Prickly Pear Cactus.)

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Family Apidae

Euglossa dilemma ... Orchid Bee

Orchid bees are native to Mexico and Central and tropical South America. Euglossa dilemma first appeared in Florida in 2003. Individuals may have been nesting inside a wooden pallet imported from Mexico.

Euglossa dilemma is about the size of a honey bee and has an iridescent, metallic, green color. As shown in the second photograph, this species has a very long tongue (about 2/3 the length of its body).

Females have stingers and pollen baskets on their hind legs. They construct nest cells from resins collected from plants. Nests are built inside enclosed cavities, entrances are usually capped with resin and plant materials, and immature bees are fed nectar and pollen by their mother. Orchid bees are solitary, but may share nesting areas.

Males (like the ones in these photographs) have brush-like front tarsi and enlarged hind tibiae. There is a hole on the outside of each tibia that leads to a sponge-like compartment for storing aromatic compounds. Males use their front tarsal brushes to collect fragrant compounds produced in the environment from flowers, aromatic leaves, and fungus on logs. Next, the compounds are deposited from the brushes into the hind tibial compartments. Males use the fragrances to woo females.

Orchid bees have mutualistic relationships with particular species of perfume orchids. Each orchid species depends on a particular species of male bee for pollination. To attract these bees, the orchid produces a chemical scent or has flowers that mimic the appearance of female bees. The orchid does not provide nectar or pollen to the bee. It is evident that Euglossa dilemma can survive quite well without the orchid since Euglossa dilemma lives in Southwest Florida, but the orchid does not. With its very long tongue, Euglossa dilemma is an important pollinator of a variety of plants.

The bees shown in the above photographs were found dead on the concrete floor inside the maintenance building at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida on November 11, 2013. Other living specimens were seen swarming on a collapsed honey bee hive in the Smith Preserve. Those bees may have been males collecting fragrant compounds from the decomposing hive materials. The bees below were photographed hovering above and climbing through the collapsed hive on November 19, 2013. Note the honeybee in photograph 2 that was also exploring the hive.

 

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Family Apidae

Nomada fervida ... Cuckoo Bee

This species is about 1 cm long and lives in sandy regions of Florida.

The individual in this photograph is a male Nomada fervida, identified by John S. Ascher (Contributing editor of BugGuide.net, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology on August 1, 2013).

Females are cleptoparasites of Agapostemon splendens, a metallic green bee in Family Halictida. Cuckoo bee females are considered cleptoparasites because they lay their eggs on the pollen masses made by Agapostemon splendens. When the cuckoo bee eggs hatch, the larvae eat the pollen.

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Family Apidae

Triepeolus rufithorax ... Cuckoo Bee

Like Nomada fervida discussed above, Triepeolus rufithorax is a cuckoo bee; females are cleptoparasites. Members of the genus parasitize the nests of a wide range of host bees in several families.

Triepeolus rufithorax is 10.5 to 14 mm long. Its integument is black or brown with parts of the head, including the antennae and mandibles entirely, or partly red. The integument on the legs is orange. The species name "rufithorax" originates from Latin and means "red thorax."

The species is found in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

Adults collect nectar for food.

 

 

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Family Braconidae

Euphoriella sp. ... Parasitoid Wasp

On April 16. 2015, this 1.25 mm-long wasp was captured in a yellow bowl trap placed below a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) in the middle of the Smith Preserve.

On August 2, 2015, it was identified from these photographs as a parasitic Apocrita by "v belov," a Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Apocrita is a suborder of Order Hymenoptera. This suborder contains the most advanced hymenopterans and is distinguished by its members having a narrow petiole ("waist"), formed between the first two segments of the actual abdomen. The first segment is fused to the thorax.

The first image shows a dorsal view of the wasp with its wings in fairly good focus, while the second image, another dorsal view, shows better focus of the thorax. The third image, a lateral view, shows the petiole.

On August 5, 2015, the wasp was identified from these photographs as a Braconid Wasp belonging to Subfamily Euphorinae by "twiztedminds," a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. "twiztedminds" stated "I believe euphoriella."

In September, 2015, the species Euphoriella was confirmed by Dr. Michael Sharkey, Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky.

Members of Subfamily Euphorinae are solitary endoparasitoids. As an immature wasp larva, it is a parasite that lives inside an insect and ultimately kills it. The host insect of Euphoriella is unknown.

 

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Family Braconidae

Unknown Species ... Braconid Wasp

In November 2012, this wasp was collected in a sweep net sample from vines growing over a shrub in the scrub along the southern berm of the pond.

On December 25, 2014, It was identified by Ben Smith, Contributor to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology. Smith suspects it is a braconid, belonging to Subfamily Microgastrinae. There are 2,500 described species in this subfamily; perhaps 40,000 species remain to be described.

Microgastrid wasps are parasitic wasps found in all major terrestrial ecosystems. They parasitize caterpillars of moths and butterflies and are an important biological control of agriculture and forestry pests.

This braconid is 1.5 mm.

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Family Braconidae

Unknown Species ... Braconid Wasp

As of 2013, more than 1,000 genera of braconid wasps have been described. There is great diversity among the species in color and size, but every one is a parasitoid of another type of insect. Most braconids are internal or external parasitoids of larval stages of beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, or true bugs.

A parasitoid spends all of its larval life feeding on the internal organs of a single host. Eventually, the host is killed. Because it kills its host, a parasitoid is really more a predator than a parasite since a parasite does not normally kill its host.

Female braconids often have long ovipositors with which to lay their eggs. The morphology of the ovipositor varies among braconid species, depending on the host species. Braconids that parasitize tiny moths have long ovipositors to reach the caterpillar through layers of plant tissue. Braconids that parasitize species of caterpillars with defense mechanisms, like spines or hairs, also have long ovipositors. Some braconid females lay their eggs in a host's egg, while others lay their eggs directly into a larval host. Typically, a large number of braconid larvae live inside a single host.

The first five photographs show a cluster of what are probably braconid pupae. They were found under the dead frond of a Sabal palmetto (Sable Palm) laying in the sand. Each cocoon is made of silk. The clusters of cocoons appear to be woven together with silk threads. There were four clusters of various shapes. Each individual cocoon is about 2 mm long. The clusters are about 1 cm long.

On September 11, 2013 these photographs were identified as probably being the cocoons of braconid wasps that parasitized some caterpillars. The identification was made by Ilona L., contributor to <bugguide.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology. The integument of the caterpillar hosts in gone and some adult wasps have emerged from the cocoons.

At left is another cluster of what appear to be twenty or more braconid cocoons. These were attached to a dead stem. This cluster is not elongate like the shape of a caterpillar and looks more like the shape of a moth pupa. But, without remnants of the host, that is difficult to ascertain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Family Braconidae

Unknown Species ... Braconid Wasp

On April 21, 2014, several Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) trees had curled structures resembling tiny cigars on the top of the leaf tips. The structures, first presumed to be galls, were later identifed as nidi (leaf rolls created by a leaf-rolling weevil). One such structure, shown in the first two photographs, was 9 mm long. Perched on top was a tiny wasp.

On April 22, 2014, the wasp was identified from these photographs as a braconid wasp by "Chalcidbear", a Contributor to <Bugguide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

Later that day, Ross Hill, another Contributor to the site, identified it as a female, probably from the Subfamily Braconinae. Members of that subfamily seek out hosts that are concealed. Hosts include caterpillars, beetle larvae, and gall midges. It may be that these photographs were taken as the female was attempting to deposit an egg into the structure.

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Family Ceraphronidae

Unknown Species ... Parasitic Wasp

On February 10, 2016, this .5 mm long parasitic wasp was collected in leaf litter beneath an oak hammock in the northwest quadrant of the Smith Preserve, north of Smith Preserve Way.

It was isolated from the litter by using a Berlese funnel. These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On March 9, 2016, the family was identified by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

There are 52 species in this family in our area. Worldwide, there are about 360 described species and an estimated ~1000 species.

Females have 9 or 10 segmented antennae, while males have 10 or 11 segmented antennae. This specimen appears to have 11-segmented antennae.

As shown above, members of this family have a very broad metasomal petiole. The metasoma is the posterior part of the body and the petiole is the "narrow waist." In this family, the "waist" is constricted, but not as narrowly as in most ants and some other wasps.

At left is an enlarged photograph of this wasp's leg. Members of the family have one apical tibial spur.

Family Ceraphronidae species are parasitoids of Diptera, Thysanoptera, Lepidoptera, and Neuroptera. Some species are hyperparasitoids of Braconidae in aphids.

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Family Crabronidae

Bembix sp. ... Sand Wasp

At first glance, this wasp resembles a yellow jacket. However, further examination shows Bembix's abdomen is black with broad white, yellow, or light blue curving bands. The abdomen of a yellow jacket is black with yellow stripes, but the stripes are not curved. Also, Bembix sp. has bulging green eyes, as shown in photograph three. The eyes are much different looking that those of yellow jackets.

Photographs 1 and 2 show a group of individuals clustered on dead branches in the scrub at the Smith Preserve.

The common name, "sand wasp" refers to the wasp's behavior. After mating, a female digs a solitary burrow in the sand. The burrow is short and simple, with a single enlarged chamber at the bottom where the female lays a single egg. After the egg hatches, the female stings flies and stuffs them into the burrow to feed the larva. She continues to feed the larva as it grows, somewhat like a bird feeds its young. The wasp closes the burrow opening every time she leaves, and re-digs an opening when she returns. A single developing larva may eat more than 20 flies.

Sand wasps have many predators. Velvet ants raid sand wasp nests to lay their eggs on mature larvae. Thick-headed flies parasitize mature sand wasps. It is common for many female sand wasps to excavate nests within a small area. This creates large nesting aggregations, which attract parasitic flies and wasps. Many of these organisms are cleptoparasites. The cleptoparasites steal the paralyzed flies in the burrows. Sometimes, sand wasps prey on their own parasites and cleptoparasites.

Adult Bembix sp. typically feed on flower nectar. It is unknown why the mature wasps in these photographs were clustered on dead branches.

 

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Family Crabronidae

Philanthus ventilabris ... Beewolf

This individual was photographed in the Smith Preserve on April 21, 2014. It was identified from this photograph on January 15, 2015 by John S. Ascher, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Beewolves, also called bee-hunters, are solitary, predatory wasps that prey on bees.

A beewolf stings its prey in membranous locations on the bee's ventral surface. The venom quickly paralyzes the bee's muscles, but does not kill the bee. Then the beewolf carries the prey to its underground tunnel, constructed by the adult female as a nesting site. Within the tunnel, the female builds cell burrows and places an egg in each cell. One, or more prey bees are placed into every cell for food for the carnivorous larva that hatch. Some species of Philanthus are predators of only certain species of bees, while other beewolves are generalists when it comes to hymenopteran prey.

Adult beewolves consume flower nectar.

Male beewolves are very territorial and mark their twigs and other objects with pheromones to keep away competing males.

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Family Crabronidae

Sticia carolina ... Horse Guard Wasp

Horse guard wasps are a type of sand wasp that live in the eastern United States. They are hunters of horse flies.

Each female digs a 15 cm deep burrow and lays one egg. Then she hunts horse fly adults. She stings each fly so it becomes paralyzed and then she carries it to the burrow. She may pack the burrow with 30 to 60 paralyzed horse fly bodies. Next, she closes the nest, digs another burrow, and deposits another egg.

The photographs shown here are of a female digging a burrow.

It is common for numerous females to excavate nests within a small area.

Horses and cows recognize this insect as a helpful wasp.

 

 

 

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Family Cynipidae

Amphibolips murata ... Bud Gall

Several Florida insects, mites, nematode worms, fungi, viruses, and slime molds have the ability to stimulate gall formation, but the most commonly observed galls are oak galls, like the one shown here, made by a gall wasp.

To create a gall, a female gall wasp inserts an egg into plant tissue. After the larva hatches, it produces chemicals in its salivary secretions that stimulate plant growth. This growth creates the gall, which provides nourishment and protection for the wasp larva.

Amphibolips murata is a gall wasp that produces bud galls on Quercus cinerea (Blackjack Oak), Q. laurifolia (Laurel Oak), Q. myrtifolia (Myrtle Oak), and Q, pumila. (Running Oak). This particular 10 mm long bud gall gall was found on Quercus laurifolia on January 6. 2014. It has a distinctive appearance that was identified from this photograph on March 30, 2014 by Charley Eiseman, Contributing Editor of <Bugguide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

This gall, another bud gall, and a spiny oak apple gall were removed from a branch of Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) in the Smith Preserve scrub on January 6, 2014. All three galls were placed in a juice glass, and a tissue cover was secured to the top of the glass. Beginning on January 18, 2014, many wasps emerged from the galls. It is suspected that most came from the two bud galls because (as shown in the photograph) the galls are covered with many exit holes. Since a female wasp normally lays one egg at a time, it is assumed that the many wasps that emerged from the bud galls may have been parasitic wasps (Family Torymidae, Family Pteromalidae, or an unknown family), or inquilines. An inquiline is an animal that lives in the dwelling place of another species.

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Family Cynipidae

Amphibolips spinosa ... Spiny Oak Apple

Gall wasps themselves are rarely seen. The wasps are small (8 mm or less), and usually shiny black or red.

Antennae are thread-like with 13 to 16 segments. Only the anterior portion of the wings have veins. The second abdominal segment makes up most of the abdomen.

Amphibolips spinosa produces bud galls on Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak), Q. phellos (Willow Oak), and Q. cinerea (Blackjack Oak).

The shape of spiny oak apple galls are nearly spherical or pear-shaped. This 7 mm long gall was found on Quercus laurifolia on January 6, 2014. It was identified from this photograph on March 30, 2014 by Charley Eiseman, Contributing Editor of <Bugguide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

This gall and two bud galls were removed from a branch of Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) in the Smith Preserve scrub on January 6, 2014. They were placed in a juice glass, and a tissue cover was secured to the top of the glass. Beginning on January 18, 2014, many wasps emerged from the galls. It is suspected that most came from the two bud galls since they have so many exit holes, while this spiny oak apple does not.

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Family Cynipidae

Unknown Species ... Laurel Oak Gall Wasps

Three galls were removed from a branch of Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) in the Smith Preserve scrub on January 6, 2014. They were placed in a juice glass, and a tissue cover was secured to the top of the glass. On January 18, 2014, seven cynipid wasps emerged from the galls.

The first four photographs are some of these wasps. All but one died before photographs could be taken. The living wasp attempted to mate with a dead individual. It is assumed that the living individual was a male attempting to mate with a female; photographs have been labeled as such.

On January 22, 2014, additional wasps began emerging from the galls. The two microphotographs below show two wasps presumed to be the same species as above, but that is not certain.

A microphotograph of another individual, thought to be a cynipid wasp is shown in the two photographs below.

It is possible that some wasps, hatching on different days, are different species of cynipids. One species may have been the wasp that caused the laurel oak to create the galls. Other species could be inquilines, or all could be inquilines.

An inquiline is an animal that lives in the dwelling place of another species. In the Subfamily Synerginae of Family Cynipidae, this type of lifestyle is very common. Inquiline cynipids are not capable of producing galls, so they deposit their eggs into galls of other species. Inquiline wasps, in large numbers, infest specific types of galls on blackberry and oaks. Sometimes, more than one kind of inquiline wasp lives in a single gall. Inquilines closely resemble the wasps that produce the galls they infest. Identification of cynipid species must be made by experts. In addition to the cynipids, there were at least four other species in three other families of wasps that emerged from the galls: Torymus sp. 1, Torymus sp. 2, an unknown species in Family Pteromalidae, and an unknown species of parasitic apocrita wasp.

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Family Cynipidae

Unknown Species ... Gall Wasps

Oak galls, created by gall wasps, appear on many different plant structures: roots, twigs, leaves, flowers, and buds. Since these plant structures develop during different times of the year (e.g. flowers in early spring, and buds in the fall), some gall wasps can create different types of galls during different seasons. A single oak gall wasp species can have two different forms, depending on where and when the larvae are developing. Usually one of the two generations is composed of only females.

The gall shown in the first image was golf-ball sized and very spherical. It was found on the top of the sand and the surface of the gall was covered by sand grains. The gall was confirmed as being caused by a member of Cynipidae on January 15, 2017 by Charley Eiseman, a Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>.

When a mature gall wasp emerges from its gall, it creates an escape hole. Photograph three shows such a hole.

Immediately left, are a large cluster of oak stem galls. Below, are oak leaf galls. Both of these galls were on a Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) in the Smith Preserve.

Although oak galls are unsightly, they rarely do harm to the host, other than disfigurement.

Gall wasp predators include parasitoid wasps, spiders, predator mites, lacewings, ladybugs, birds and squirrels. Sciurus carolinensis (Eastern Gray Squirrel) is known to eat whole galls.

 

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Family Cynipidae

Unknown Species ... Oak Stem Gall Wasp

On March 6, 2012, this 2 cm long oak stem gall was found on a sand live oak in the Smith Preserve. It resembled the texture of a potato and had an irregular globular shape. There were two small, oval, orange objects near the top of the gall, as shown in the close-up below.

These photographs were submitted for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 15, 2017, Charlie Eiseman, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>, identified the gall as having been made by a Cynipid wasp.

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Family Cynipidae

Andricus quercusfoliatus ... Leafy Oak Gall Wasps

The four photographs below are of leafy oak galls on Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) in the Smith Preserve. The wasp that created these galls is Andricus quercusfoliatus.

These photographs were taken on December 19, 2012. The species was confirmed on March 29, 2015 by Charley Eiseman, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Galls begin to develop in October and adults emerge the following August according to <BugGuide.net>.

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Family Dryinidae

Unknown Species ... Unknown Common Name

On December 30, 2015, this .75 mm larval wasp, attached to a 1.5 leafhopper nymph, was caught in a sweep net sample. The sample was obtained from a twisted mound of Vitis rotundifolia (Muscadine Grape) vines standing three feet high just north of Smith Preserve Way. Images were created using photomicrography, and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 7, 2016, the black crusty object was identified as a dryinid wasp larva by Charley Eiseman, a Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>. Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net> added information about the wasp. "Female dryinid wasps inject eggs into the host using a sharp ovipositor, and the larva spends its early stages feeding internally on the host. As the larva grows, it starts to protrude from the abdomen of the host and develops this hardened sac-like "case" to protect its vulnerable body while continuing to feed on the host, which is eventually killed.

The first two images above show the wasp case from the right side of the leafhopper's body. The third and fourth images show the same wasp case from a different angle, the left side of the leafhopper's body.

Dryinidae is a family of solitary wasps. There are ~1400 species in the family. Larvae are parasitoids of hemipterans (like the one in these photographs), lepidopterans, and beetles.

Adults are up to 11 millimeters in length, but some are as small as 1.5 mm. Males have wings and females do not. Females look very much like worker ants.

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Family Encyrtidae

Acerophagus sp. ... Chalcid Wasp

On November 14, 2016, this 1 mm long female wasp was captured in a yellow bowl trap left overnight beneath a Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) in the northwest quadrant of the Smith Preserve, just south of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology, for identification.

On December 3, 2016, the family was identified by "twistedminds", a contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

Encyrtidae is a large family of parasitic wasps. Many are used as biological control agents of harmful insects. The majority of Encyrtids are primary parasitoids of Hemipterans. On June 20, 2017, the genus was identified by Chalcidbear, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Chalcidbear stated, "I think this is ... the genus Acerophagus, which are parasitic on mealybugs." On July 2, 2017, the genus was confirmed by "v belov", a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>.

 

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Family Encyrtidae

Anagyrus sp. ... Chalcid Wasp

On December 30, 2015, this 1 mm long wasp was captured in a sweep net sample taken in tall grass and other vegetation adjacent to the southern edge of the Smith Preserve Pond.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 22, 2016, the wasp was identified as a female Anagyrus sp. by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

As shown in the second image, this wasp's antennae are very distinctive. The first segment is thick and dark purple. Several other segments near the first segment are striped white and purple.

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are 270 species worldwide and 26 species in this genus in our area. Members of Family Encyrtidae are parasites of a wide variety of species. Some attack eggs, others attack larvae or adults, and others are hyperparasitoids.

The family is known for its characteristic mesopleuron (the lateral surface of the middle portion of the thorax). As seen in the third photograph, the mesopleuron is large, convex, and cushion-like in this family.

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Family Eulophidae

Horismenus sp. ... Eulophid Wasp

On December 30, 2015, this 2 mm long wasp was captured in a sweep net sample obtained in a tangle of Vitus rotundifolia (Muscadine Grape) vines in the northeast quadrant of the Smith Preserve, just North of Smith Preserve Way.

This photograph was created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. The family was identified on January 18, 2016 by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to <BugGuide.net>, members of this family have dark metallic coloration. They also have 4-segmented tarsi (the distal part of the leg). This trait distinguishes them from other chalcid wasps.

On March 4, 2016, the genus was identified as "Probably Horismenus" by Zachary Lahey, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. He said it belonged to Subfamily Entedoninae. According to <Bugguide.net>, there are 15 species belonging to that genus in our area, and 400 species worldwide.

Many Horismenus spp. are primary larval or pupal parasitoids of leaf-mining and wood-boring Coleoptera, Diptera, and Lepidoptera. Some are hyperparasitoids (parasites on or in another parasites), including other wasps (Braconids and Chalcidoids).

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Family Eulophidae

Melittobia sp ? ... Eulophid Wasp

On January 3, 2017, this 1 mm long female wasp was obtained from leaf litter collected under a Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) bush, growing under a Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) in the center of the Preserve, just north of Smith Preserve Way. .

The wasp was isolated from the litter with a Berlese funnel and these photographs were created using photomicroscopy. The images were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

Both the family and sex identification of this wasp were made on March 8, 2017 by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Male wasps in this family have ant-like, narrow waists, while females do not.

As was explained above, all members of the family have 4-segmented tarsi (the distal part of the leg). This trait distinguishes members of the family from other chalcid wasps. The tarsi of this individual are shown in image 5.

On August 23, 2017, the genus was identified as possibly Melittobia by Zachary Lahey, a <BugGuide.net> Contributor.

According to <BugGuide.net> there are 7 species of Melittobia in our area and 12 worldwide. They are ecto-parasitoids of a wide variety "of bee and wasp hosts, especially at pupal/prepupal stages.

Males of this genus are blind and flightless. There are both short and long-winged females. Males produce pheromones to attract females, but females that are not inseminated can reproduce progeny of both sexes.

 

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Family Eulophidae

Unknown Species ... Eulophid Wasp

 

 

On December 30, 2015, this 1 mm long parasitic wasp was captured with other arthropods in a sweep net that was used in a very tangled Vitis rotundifolia (Muscadine Grape) vine growing just north of Smith Preserve Way in the northeast quadrant of Smith Preserve.

These photographs, created using photomicroscopy, were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On February 8, 2016, the family was identified by Joseph Fortier, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to <BugGuide.net>, within this family, there are at least 4 subfamilies and more than 830 species in approximately 110 genera in our area. Many of the species in this family parasitize leaf-mining and wood-boring Lepidoptera and Diptera.

 

 

 

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Family Formicidae

Brachymyrmex depilis ... Rover Ant

Brachymyrmex depilis is a very common ant. Workers range in size from 1 to 2 mm. The individual in these photographs was 1.5 mm long. This ant was following the trail of others of its kind in quartz sand in an oak-rosemary scrub.

This species lives below the soil's surface, where members eat underground insects like root aphids. Workers gorge themselves on the aphid's honeydew to the point that their size nearly doubles. They also scavenge sweet foods above ground. Perhaps this ant with others in its parade were looking for surface sweets.

Brachymyrmex is a New World genus with color ranging from pale light-yellow to dark brown. The genus can be recognized by having 9 antennal segments. Brachymyrmex depilis is a yellow species that has only a few erect hairs. While most members of this species have relatively large eyes, an undescribed species known only from Florida and shown in these photographs has a much smaller eye with fewer facets in the greatest diameter of the eye.

The individual shown in the photographs above was confirmed as genus Brachymyrmex and identified as Brachymyrmex depilis by James C. Trager on May 8, 2014. Trager is a Contributing Editor of <Bug Guide.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

At right and below, this ant was found with others like it in pine needle litter collected under a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) tree on December 29, 2014. It was extracted from the litter using a Berlese Funnel. The photographs of this specimen were made using photomicroscopy.

On February 25, 2015, the ant was identified from these two photographs by Brendon E. Boudinot, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net> and confirmed by James C. Trager on February 26, 2015.

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Family Formicidae

Brachymyrmex obscurior ... Rover Ant

On February 23, 2016, this 1.5 mm long ant was found inside a curled Citrus sp. leaf on a tree growing in the north central section of the Smith Preserve, north of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On March 25, 2016, the species was identified by James C. Trager, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>.

This species is a minute, pale light yellow to dark brown rover ant that has a small petiolar node, somewhat flattened, and often hidden by the overhanging gaster. It has a 9-segmented antenna without a club, and an acidopore. The acidopore is a pore, or hole, at the end of the abdomen. Surrounded by hairs, it is the structure from which its venom (formic acid and other hydrocarbons) are sprayed.

This rover ant is very similar looking to Barachymyrmex patagonicus, shown below, but B. obscurior has smaller eyes and more hairs on the gaster.

Like other species in genus Barachymyrmex, this rover ant usually nests in soil or rotting wood. It is known to be attracted to sweet liquids and has been reported as visiting extrafloral nectaries. That may have been what this particular ant was doing when it was found inside the citrus leaf.

The species originated in Central and South America and was introduced here. In southern Florida, the species is an occasional nuisance pest.

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Family Formicidae

Brachymyrmex patagonicus ... Dark Rover Ant

This worker ant, 2 mm in length, was captured in a sweep net sample taken in vines covering shrubs south of the pond in the Smith Preserve in November 2012.

It was identified from this photograph on December 18, 2014 by "v belov", Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

The dark rover ant is native to Argentina and Paraguay and was first introduced to the United States about 1976. This ant is considered a nuisance species because winged adults and foraging workers invade man-made structures. The ants are attracted to areas with relatively high moisture.

As with other members of genus Brachymyrmex, this species has 9-segmented antennae. A dark rover ant can be distinguished from other members in the genus by having long hairs on the thorax, relatively large eyes, and scattered hairs that lay flat against the dorsal surface of the gaster.

Dark rover ants visit nectaries on cactus for sugar, and are attracted to honeydew extruded by hemipterans.

Colonies form in soil, at the bases of trees, and in leaf litter. Unlike many ant species, dark rover ants can coexist in close proximity to Solenopsis invicta (Fire Ants). Dark rover ants do not bite, sting, or transmit disease.

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Family Formicidae

Camponotus floridanus ... Florida Carpenter Ant

Florida has no less than 207 species of ants. Fifty-three of these are exotic (not native). Florida scrub is habitat for 50 species.

All ants are social insects. Most Florida colonies begin after a single queen has mated in flight at night. She may rapidly mate with several males and store sperm to last for the rest of her life, which can be several years. A queen does not normally mate with her siblings. After mating, the queen looks for a safe place to begin raising workers. Males are not produced until the colony is large enough to support them.

Ants are important predators of other insects and an important food source for birds, amphibians, and small reptiles.

There are several species of Camponotus spp. in Southern Florida. Shown here, is Camponotus floridanus. Like most carpenter ants, Camponotus floridanus take over cavities left in wood by termites, or they nest in the ground. They can hollow out trees, but they do not eat wood.

Camponotus floridanus is large, fast-moving, and usually nocturnal. As shown, the head and thorax are red, the abdomen is red and black, and the body has many long and golden setae (hairs).

In the photograph at right, ants are tending a group of aphids. The ants guard the aphids from predators. When stroked by an ant, an aphid releases a drop of honeydew, which the ant eats. Carpenter ants also eat plant and fruit juices, and insects.

As shown at left, within a colony, there are both large and small workers.

A carpenter ant does not sting; it uses its mandibles to bite. Another defense is to spray formic acid from the tip of its abdomen. For small birds, the formic acid is a deterrent to predation. However, woodpeckers appear to be able to cope with the acid and consume a lot of these ants.

 

At left is what appears to be a Florida carpenter ant, but it is not. This is an excellent example of myrmecomorphy (ant mimicry). This broad-headed bug has evolved to have the appearance of a carpenter ant. Look closely and you can see a long straw-like tube extending from its head toward its posterior. This tube is its sucking mouth structure, a much different structure than an ant's chewing mandibles. But, by resembling an ant that has a formidable defence system (spraying formic acid and biting ), the nymph may be avoided by predators. For more information about broad-headed bugs click here.

 

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Family Formicidae

Camponotus planatus ... Compact Carpenter Ant / Short Carpenter Ant

On April 16, 2015, this 4 mm ant was captured in a yellow bowl trap placed under a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine).

On May 1, 2015, the species was identified from these photographs by James C. Trager, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

The compact carpenter ant is native to the Neotropics (Mexico to Columbia, Cuba) and considered an exotic in Florida.

Characteristics of this ant include: A) worker length 3 to 6 mm; B) 12-segmented antennae, with terminal segment slightly elongated and bullet-shaped; scape (basal segment of the antenna) longer than the width of the head; C) long, gold-colored body hairs abundant on head, thorax and abdomen; D) few hairs on legs and very few on the base of scape; E) no stinger; F) thorax evenly convex as is characteristic of carpenter ants; G) thorax and head ash brown, gaster blackish, as in C. floridanus, but compact carpenter ants are smaller; H) one petiolar segment.

The most common nest sites are hollow twigs, old termite galleries in dead wood and grass culms, voids in tree trunks and leaf axil bases in palms.

The 3rd image is of a second individual caught in the same yellow bowl trap on the same day as the individual shown in images 1 and 2. On April 30, 2015, it was identified by Brad Barnd, contributing editor of <BugGuide.net> as probably another Camponotus planatus.

On January 10, 2017, the ant below and others like it were crawling on the leaves and stems of Psychotria nervosa (Shinyleaf Wild Coffee). This specimen was collected, placed in alcohol, photographed, and sent for species confirmation to <BugGuide.net>. On January 11, 2017, the species was confirmed by James C. Trager.

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Family Formicidae

Camponotus sexguttatus. ... (No Common Name) Carpenter Ant

On January 3, 2017, this 6 mm worker ant was living in leaf litter beneath a Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) bush and a Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) tree in the center of Smith Preserve, just north of Smith Preserve Way. The ant was extracted from the litter with a Berlese funnel, and photographs were created using photomicroscopy.

Images were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On March 23, 2017, the species was identified as possibly Camponotus sexguttantus by Seth Burgess, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Seth stated, "Camponotus sexguttatus perhaps? - there's not a good profile shot, but the dorsal shot does show a pretty deep metanotal groove and the yellow splotches on gaster match up well." On March 24, 2017, the species was confirmed by James C. Trager, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>.

Also living in the same sample of leaf litter was the 5 mm long ant shown below. It was identified as another of the species by James C. Trager on March 24, 2017.

According to <BugGuide.net>, this species is dark reddish brown to blackish in color, has abundant white erect setae, and cream colored lateral spots on at least tergite two. "Nests occur in pre-existing cavities in living or dead plants, such as hollow grass and bamboo stems, weed stems, hollow twigs, and burrows in various parts of trees. "

According to the online website "AntWiki", the native range of the species is from Argentina to Nicaragua, plus the Caribbean. It has become established in Florida and Hawaii. In Dade and Broward Counties of Florida, the nests have been reported in saw grass stems at the edge of marshy areas. The earliest collection records in Florida were in 1993.

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Family Formicidae

Camponotus tortuganus. ... Tortugas Carpenter Ant

This species of Camponotus was identified by James C. Trager (Contributing Editor of <bugguide.net> on August 12, 2013.) These photographs were taken after a piece of rotting Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) was disturbed in the Smith Preserve on April 17, 2013, revealing worker ants tending cocoons. The third photograph includes a winged female alate (reproductive).

When compared to Camponotus floridanus, Camponotus tortuganus workers have a head that is longer than broad, and the tibia of all legs and the base of the antennae lack erect hairs. Additionally, individuals are thinner than Camponotus floridanus, and more pale with less color contrast.

In the United States, Camponotus tortuganus is limited to central and southern portions of Florida.

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Family Formicidae

Camponotus sp. ... Carpenter Ant

On January 26, 2016, this 4 mm long ant was caught in a sweep net used in short, dry vegetation growing beneath Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) trees in the southeastern quadrant of the Smith Preserve.

The ant is black with lighter banding on its gaster. It has a one-segmented waist with a very pronounced petiole, fairly large mandibles, and eyes with many facets. The body is hairy and the legs have spurs.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. On March 25, 2016, the genus was identified by James C. Trager, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to <BugGuide.net, Camponotus means "flat back." As can be seen in the second photograph above, this is a very descriptive characteristic. Members of this genus have a flattened or weakly curved dorsal mesosomal (middle section) profile in most Northern Hemisphere species.

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Family Formicidae

Cardiocondyla emeryl ... Tramp Ant

On March 3, 2016, this 1.8 mm long ant was caught in a pitfall trap that had been placed overnight in sand beneath a Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) tree, southeast of the Smith Preserve pond.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. On April 30, 2016, the species was identified by James C. Trager, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>.

These minute ants (with no apparent common name except "tramp ant") are known to live in open, arid habitats. Nests are commonly in the soil.

A distinctive characteristic of this species is the shape of the clypeus (the broad plate at the front of the ant's head). The clypeus of this ant has flattened and prominent projecting lateral portions which are fused. This creates a raised projecting median portion, forming a shelf that projects forward over the mandibles. Sometimes the lateral portions of the clypeus extend further forward than the median so that the anterior margin of the projecting shelf is concave medially.

Antennae have 11-12 segments, usually with a distinct 3-segmented club, as shown in the photograph at right. As shown in the photograph above, the postpetiole is dorsoventrally flattened in profile. As can be seen in the second photograph above, in dorsal view, the postpetiole is very broad, much broader than the petiole.

The stinger is large, strongly developed, knife blade-like and broad in profile. The head of workers seen in full-face view is subrectangular.

Cardiocondyla emeryl is an omnivorous species. They likely kill small, soft-bodied arthropods, scavenge bodies of larger dead arthropods, eat seeds, and feed on nectar. Individuals produce a pheromone that repels other ant species.

Cardiocondyla emeryl is native to Africa, and considered exotic in the United States, where it has been found in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and California. This species is considered a tropical tramp species.

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Family Formicidae

Cardiocondyla obscurior ... Tramp Ant

On December 13, 2016, this 1.75 mm long ant was caught in a yellow bowl trap left over night on a sandy ridge in the Smith Preserve near 14th Ave N and a private residence.

These three photographs were created using photomicrography. The first photograph was taken of the ant submerged in alcohol. The next two photos were taken after the specimen was allowed to air dry. Note, the abdomen in the dried specimen shrank in size and the stripped pattern disappeared.

The photographs were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. On December 14, 2016, the species was identified by James C. Trager, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>.

Characteristics of the species include: workers are small (1.5 mm) and yellowish-brown; the waist is two segmented; there are relatively long propodeal spines; the head shape is subrectangular; antenna are 12-segmented, terminating in a 3-segmented club; eyes have numerous facets and are not unusually large (ie. they are less than half the length of the head); the gaster is dark brown; and for their small size, they have a relatively large stinger.

Colonies are usually small with less than 500 workers. They typically nest in soil, but have been known to nest in cavities of trees, bushes, dead twigs, coconuts, and galls.

Cardiocondyla obscurior is native to Africa and Asia. The species has been spread around the world by human commerce. In the United States, this ant is found in Hawaii and Florida. The species is not considered to be a pest species and is not known to negatively affect native ecosystems in Florida.

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Family Formicidae

Crematogaster ashmeadi ... Valentine Ant / Acrobat Ant

On August 13, 2013, Dr. Mark Deyrup, Senior Research Program Director and Research Biologist at the Archibold Biological Station in Central Florida, identified the ants in these photographs as Crematogaster sp. . Dr. Deyrup explained that they may be C. ashmeadi, but he could not be sure from these photographs. On August 22, 2013, the species was confirmed as Crematogaster ashmeadi by James C. Trager, contributing editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Entomology. All individuals are females.

Both of Crematogaster's common names refer to its gaster (abdomen). It is called a "valentine ant" because its gaster is heart-shaped. and it is called an "acrobat ant" because of the flexible way it holds its gaster up over the rest of its body.

As can be seen in the first two photographs, Crematogaster ashmeadi females have a stinger. But, unlike most other ants with a stinger, this ant's stinger is flattened and does not dispense venom. Instead it dispenses repellent chemicals. Also, It can bite.

Crematogaster spp. are native to Florida and are found in most counties. Individuals are small to medium in size (2.6 to 3.2 mm), and have very shiny bodies that vary in color from light red to brown or black.

Acrobat ants are extremely territorial and arboreal. They nest in trees and rotten wood. They do not damage living trees, but instead move into spaces and chambers hollowed out and abandoned by other insects (caterpillars, termites, and wood-boring beetles).

As an acrobat ant moves, it secretes a pheromone from the tibia of its legs. This scent trail allows members of the colony to connect routes to good food sources. Workers in a colony are scavengers and predators of dead and living insects. Also, workers tend sap sucking insects. The individuals in these photographs were tending aphids on the twig of a Quercus geminata (Live Sand Oak) in the Smith Preserve. The ants protect the nymphs from predators in exchange for honeydew.

On January 10, 2017, the 2.25 mm long ant shown below was living with others inside a broken, rotting branch that was laying on the ground in the north-central part of the Preserve.

The ant was collected in alcohol, photographed, and sent for confirmation that it was a Cremastogaster spp. to <BugGuide.net>.

On January 13, 2017, James C. Trager identified it as Cremastogaster ashmeadi. Trager stated, "Short, roughly triangular, widely separated propodeal spines, a little sculpture or pilosity, along with arboreal habitat, characterize this common Florida Crematogaster."

Note: "Pilosity" refers to being covered with fine, soft hair.

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Family Formicidae

Cyphomyrmex sp. ... Fungus-Growing Ant

On December 29, 2014, this 1.75 mm ant was living in pine needle litter beneath a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) tree. It was extracted from the litter using a Berlese Funnel. These photographs were created using photomicroscopy.

The ant had a 2-segmented waist and did not appear to have a stinger. Because its eyes are less than half the length of the head, the webmaster suspected it belonged to Subfamily Myrmicinae.

On February 17, 2015, the subfamily was confirmed and the ant genus was identified from photographs of the ant in alcohol by James C. Trager, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology. Dr. Trager stated it is "Cypho-myrmex, one of the so-called lesser fungus-growing ants, probably Cyphomyrmex minutus." Dr. Trager requested that photographs of the dry specimen be sent to <BugGuide.net> so that species identification could be verified.

The photographs shown here are of the dry specimen and are now posted at <BugGuide.net> . On February 18, 2015, genus confirmation was made from these photographs, by Matthew Prebus, a Contributer to <BugGuide.net>. Prebus thinks it is Cyphomyrmex rimosus. He requests a more focused photograph of the gaster, which may show an indented area that extends posteriorly from the postpetiole. That feature will confirm his identification.

Genus Cyphomyrmex occurs from the southern United States to Argentina. The single most distinguishing structure of the genus is the broadly expanded frontal carinae. The carina is an elevated ridge or keel on the head (See image 1). Another characteristic is that unlike many ants, these ants are not shiny.

Cyphomyrmex spp. live in small colonies with workers usually numbering tens to hundreds. Most nests are small chambers in the ground, under objects, or inside rotten wood. Fungal substrate used by most of the species are caterpillar droppings and dead insect parts.

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Family Formicidae

Cyphomyrmex sp. ... Fungus-Growing Ant

On December 19, 2014, this 1.5 mm long ant was living in pine needle litter beneath a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) tree. It was removed from the litter by using a Berlese Funnel. These photographs were created using photomicroscopy.

On March 6, 2015, it was identified from these photographs by James C. Trager, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Trager's comment was, "There are questions as to what species to call this, but the genus is certain."

Webmaster's note: Although this ant and the one above it were found under the same slash pine tree, in different litter samples taken about 6 feet apart, and the two ants appear to be very similar, it is evident that they have some structural differences.

The two heads appear to have different shapes. The length of the head of this ant is greater than the width of its head at the eyes. In the fungus ant above, the distances of those lengths are about the same. As shown in the second image here and for the one above, the dorsal surfaces of the thorax have bumps, but they are not shaped the same.

As confirmed by James C. Trager on March 25, 2016, this species could be C. rimosus or C. Minutus.

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Family Formicidae

Dorymytrmex bureni ... Pyramid Ant / Crater Ant / Cone Ant

On August 13, 2013, Dr. Mark Deyrup, Senior Research Program Director and Research Biologist at the Archibold Biological Station in Central Florida, identified the ants in these photographs as Dorymytrmex bureni.

The common names of this ant, "Pyramid Ant," "Crater Ant," and "Cone Ant" describe the very distinctive volcano-shaped mounds these ants create. The mounds are typically made in sandy soil in open areas. The colony itself resides deep below the crater.

A Dorymytrmex bureni ant is 3.0 to 3.5 mm long. As can be seen in these photographs, it is yellow-orange to orange-brown with brown antennal segments (except for the first segment, which is lighter in color). It has long legs, a brownish posterior gaster (abdomen), a head that is longer than wide, an upward pointing propodeal spine shaped like a pyramid or cone, and a shiny overall appearance. It does not have a stinger.

Pyramid ants emit an unpleasant odor and move very quickly. They are predaceous and often litter their mounds with the bodies of different kinds of slain insects, especially other species of ants. They readily attack the workers and newly mated queens of Solenopsis invicta (Imported Fire Ant).

Since pyramid ants do not sting, bite, or shoot noxious formic acid, nor do they frequent man-made structures, but they do attack pests species like imported fire ants, they are considered beneficial insects.

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Family Formicidae

Monomorium floricola ... Bicolored Trailing Ant

This 1.5 mm-long ant was captured in a yellow bowl trap placed beneath a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) tree in the middle of the Smith Preserve on April 16, 2015.

It was identified as a member of Subfamily Myrmicinae by John S. Ascher on May 4, 2015. Ascher is a Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Subfamily Myrmicinae is the largest ant subfamily and contains more genera and more species than any other subfamily. All members of the subfamily have a two-segmented abdomen. Most members of the subfamily are generalist foragers.

On March 25, 2016, James C. Trager, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net> identified the species.

Monomorium floricola is minute, slender and glassy smooth. It is believed to have originated in India and is now found in tropical and subtropical areas around the world. In the United States, it is found in Florida, Texas, and Hawaii.

Nests are often in cavities created in plants by beetle burrows, and the abandoned nests of other arboreal ants and in hollow weed and vine stems.

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Family Formicidae

Monomorium viridum ... The Green Monomorium

On December 30, 2015, this 1.75 mm ant was caught with a sweep net in tall vegetation growing adjacent to the southern edge of Smith Preserve Pond.

After microscopic examination, the ant was observed to have a two-segmented waist without any spines. Both the petiole (1st segment of the waist) and the post petiole (2nd segment of the waist) are rounded knobs. The ant has erect white hairs on its head, thorax, gaster and legs.

These three images were created by photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. Above is a lateral view. Below are two slightly different views of the head.

On January 21, 2016, the ant was identified by James C. Trager, Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>.

On November 1, 2012, a similar looking ~2 mm long ant (shown in the three photographs below) was captured in a sweep net in the Preserve and stored in alcohol. Later, the specimen was dried and photographs were taken and sent to <BugGuide.net> for confirmation of the species. Upon request by James C. Trager, a close-up of the dorsal view of the petiole was taken (shown in the 3rd photo below).

On December 19, 2016, the species identification was confirmed by James C. Trager. Trager commented. "These do nest in the well drained soil of scrub habitats, and this is the only native Monomorium found around Naples. Note that the somewhat lighter coloring of the mesosoma is not a species characteristic, just individual."

[Note from the webmaster: the mesosoma is the second visible main section of an ant's body, between the head and the gaster. The lighter than normal colored mesosoma is best seen in the first photograph of this specimen.]

According to <BugGuide.net>, this species is 1.7 to 1.9 mm in length. Individuals are often green, live in sandy areas in states along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and make nests only in pure sand. They live in enormous colonies with large crater-like openings. The colonies are polygynous, meaning there are multiple reproductive queens in each colony.

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Family Formicidae

Nylanderia bourbonica ... Crazy Ant

On December 17, 2014, this 1.75 mm long ant was living in leaf litter in an oak hammock in the northeast corner of the Smith Preserve. It was extracted from the leaf litter with a Berlese funnel. These photos were produced using photomicroscopy.

Identification was made from the second and third photographs on January 3, 2015 by James C. Trager, Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. Trager explained that this ant is native to Australasia, but it is now found in warm climates around the world.

Nylanderia bourbonia are typically black and covered with dense fine hairs on the dorsal surface of the mesosoma (the middle part of the body that bears the legs). Like other members in this genus, this species is a predator and scavenger of arthropods and also collects honeydew.

The genus Nylanderia includes over 110 species that live in almost all geographic regions. It is the fifth most frequently found genus of ants in leaf litter sampled around the world.

According to Mark Deyrup's 2017 book, Ants of Florida Identification and Natural History, page 212 there are 13 known species of Nylanderia in Florida.

Members of this genus have erect hairs on the first segment of the antennae and legs, and paired hairs on the upper surface of the first two segments of the thorax.

Genus Nylanderia are one of the Florida ants called "Crazy ants." This description fits the way they appear to follow diffuse or vaporizing odor trails rather than tracing a chemical trail along a substrate, and when disturbed, they race around.

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Family Formicidae

Nylanderia steinheili ... Crazy Ant

On December 19, 2014 this 2.25 mm ant was living in leaf litter, collected under a citrus tree in the northeast hammock of the Smith Preserve. The ant was isolated from the leaf litter using a Berlese Funnel. These photographs were created using photomicroscopy.

On February 15, 2015, the ant was identified from the first photograph by James C. Trager, Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Trager said he recognized it "based on the color pattern (whitish mid and hind coxae, light brown body) and long pilose scapes." [A scape is the base segment of an antenna. Note the hairs on the scape and other other parts of the ant's head as shown in the enlargements.]

According to online sources, workers are generalized scavengers.

The species is found in the Seychelles, United States, and Neotropical Regions ( from Mexico to Venezuela and Brazil.)

On November 15, 2016, the 2 mm long ant below was extracted from leaf litter under a severely trimmed Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) tree in the middle of the Smith Preserve. These photographs were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>. On December 7, 2016, the ant was identified by James C. Trager as another Nylanderia steinhelli.

On November 15, 2016, the 2 mm long ant below was collected in the another leaf litter sample beneath a severely trimmed Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) tree in the middle of the Smith Preserve.

The small size, dense hairs, and white coxae were clues to the webmaster that this ant may be Nylanderia steinheili. These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for verification of the identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 20, 2018, the ant was identified as possibly Nylanderia phantasma by "MrILoveTheAnts", a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. The comment made by this Contributor was "Just given the pale color and sandy environment mentioned I'd consider, Nylanderia phantasma as a possibility."

The Contributor is correct in noting the pale color. The legs are pale. In addition, the enlarged hairs on the head and body are pale, as are the antennae. And there are only a few enlarged hairs on the antennal scopes. These characteristics fit the description of Nylanderia phantasma in Mark Deyrup's 2017 book, Ants of Florida Identification and Natural History, pages 217 and 344.

However, on January 22, 2018, it was determined to be another Nylanderia steinheili by James C. Trager. Trager stated, "Not pale enough for N. phantasma, which also probably does not occur in Collier Co. Closest it would be found is at the southern extreme of the Lake Wales Ridge, Highlands Co. This is a weedy, introduced species, fairly common around Naples."

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Family Formicidae

Paratrechina longicornis ... Longhorn Crazy Ant

On December 30, 2015, this 2 mm long ant was captured in a sweep net sample taken in low, dry vegetation along the eastern gopher tortoise fence just south of Smith Preserve Way. These photographs were created using photomicrosopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 19, 2015, the ant was identified by James C. Trager, Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>.

Paratrechina longicornis is called a "crazy ant" because individuals do not follow straight lines. Instead, they dash around erratically.

The body is typically brownish-black with a few short white bristles. Legs and antennae are pale brown. Antennae and legs are very long, and this characteristic helps distinguish them from other ants.

This ant is an agricultural and domestic pest. They do not sting people, but they can bite and secrete formic acid into the wound from the tip of the abdomen.

The ants are omnivorous, eating seeds, dead invertebrates, plant secretions, fruit, household scraps, and honeydew. They sometimes tend aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects for the honeydew.

The species is considered to be the most widespread species of ant in the world, living in tropical and subtropical areas, as well as inside buildings. Nests are built in both dry and damp locations.

On January 11, 2017, the individual below was captured with a net along the edge of the marsh by Leif Johnson, a Conservancy of SW FL scientist. The ant was identified by the webmaster and the ID was verified on February 6, 2017 by James C. Trager as Paratrechina longicornis.

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Family Formicidae

Pheidole metallescens ... Big-Headed Ant

On December 15, 2015, this 1.5 mm long ant was captured in a yellow bowl trap placed near a clump of Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) in the northwest quadrant of the Smith Preserve. The first two photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 26, 2016, James C. Trager, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>, stated "Likely Pheidole*metallescens, but need to see propodeum lateral and postpetiole dorsal to confirm."

Additional photographs (3 & 4) below were prepared in the same way as the first photographs and posted to <BugGuide.net> at Trager's request.

The first photograph below shows a lateral view of the propodeum. The propodeum is the segment immediately anterior of the ant's waist. In this photograph, the waist is to the left of the propodeum. The second photograph shows the dorsal view of the postpetiole. The postpetiole is the second or posterior segment of the waist. The petiole is the first or anterior segment of the waist.

Confirmation of the species was made on September 12, 2016 by James C. Trager.

According to online sources, this species is common in Florida, where it often nests in soil beneath the shade of trees. There are both minor and major workers. Each colony has a single queen. Workers collect small grass seeds and scavenge dead arthropods.

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Family Formicidae

Pheidole moerens ... Big-Headed Ant

On December 29, 2014, this 1.5 mm long ant was living in pine needle litter beneath a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) tree. It was isolated from the litter by using a Berlese Funnel. Photographs were created using photomicroscopy. As can be seen in this photograph, the body of this ant is covered with setae (hairs), and the ant appears to have a two-segmented waist and several spines on the propodeum. [The propodeum is the first abdominal segment, and it is fused to the thorax].

The ant was identified from these photographs on February 26, 2015 by James C. Trager, a Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Pheidole moerens is an introduced species with an unknown native range. Individuals in the wild eat seeds and small dead and living insects. The genus name, "Pheidole," means thrifty or saving and refers to the ants habit of harvesting and storing seeds.

There are two casts of Pheidole workers: the "minor" workers and the "major workers." Major workers have very large heads. It is the size of the major workers' heads that give the genus its common name, "Big Headed Ant."

Minor caste members of Pheidole moerens are smaller than major cast members and are dark brown with brownish-yellow appendages. Major caste members are reddish brown. Colonies grow to 600 or more workers with only about 20% being majors and the rest being minors like the one shown above.

On April 7, 2015, the 3.5 mm long drone ant shown at right and below was captured in a yellow bowl trap placed beneath a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine). This specimen's very large ocelli indicate it is probably most active at night.

On April 10, 2015, it was identified from the first two photographs as "Probably the very abundant introduced species Ph*moerens," by James C. Trager.

The webmaster is totally confused by the size of its compound eyes and ocelli, as well as its rounded face. None of those characteristics seemed to fit the other Pheidole moerens identified above by Dr. Trager. The webmaster wonders "Are drones that much different from the other casts in that species?" To the webmaster the specimen looks a lot like Myrmelachista lauropacifica of Costa Rica that is posted in an online key. Myrmelachista lauropacifica is described in the key as: “Ocelli large, width of median ocellus greater than distance between median and lateral ocellus; petiolar dorsum with conspicuous tuft of erect setae.” But, Dr. Trager is an expert and this webmaster is not.

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Family Formicidae

Pheidole sp. ... Big-Headed Ant

There are about 1,000 described species of Pheidole. The genus is widespread and is thought to have first evolved in the Americas.

The individual shown in these photographs was collected in a leaf litter sample in an oak hammock in the Smith Preserve on December 17, 2014. On December 30, 2014, it was identified from these photographs by James C. Trager, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology. He identified it as a "minor" worker. He said it may be Pheidole floridana.

Pheidole spp. collect and store seeds for food. Major workers probably carry large items like seeds to the colony and function as the seed huskers. Their heads are filled with large mandibular muscles that enable the jaws to exert pressure useful in cracking seed husks.

Pheidole species also scavenge dead insects and other animals, and can be predaceous. The majority of Florida species form small colonies of only two or three hundred individuals in soil.

Many Pheidole spp. are prey to parasitoid flies that lay their eggs in major workers. The fly larvae grow mainly in the head capsule of the victim, eventually causing decapitation.

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Family Formicidae

Pheidole tysoni ... Big-Headed Ant

On December 30, 2015, this 3 mm long ant was caught in a sweep net used in low brush along the eastern gopher tortoise fence, just south of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On March 25, 2016, the species was identified by James C. Trager, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>.

The species Pheidole tysoni lives in fields with sandy soil and nests in soil with little evidence on the surface of their presence.

This species is a small, yellowish ant.

Like other members of the genus, there are two types of workers, the minor worker with a smaller, roundish head, and the major worker, like this one, with the big, muscular head.

Some myrmecologists (entomologists who specialize in the study of ants) have observed this species tending aphids.

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Family Formicidae

Pseudomyrmex gracilis ... Elongate Twig Ant / Mexican Twig Ant

Most species of Pseudomyrmex are generalist twig nesters, building nests in the hollow stems of dead grasses, twigs of herbaceous plants, and in dead, woody twigs. The individual shown in the first two photographs was climbing a flower of Annona glabra (Pond Apple).

The ant below, 7 to 8 mm in length, was crawling on Smilax bona-nox (Saw Greenbrier). This individual, photographed on February 10, 2014, was identified from these photographs by John S. Ascher, a Contributing Editor with <bugguide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

Pseudomyrmex spp. are slender ants that live exclusively in tropical and subtropical regions of the New World. They have antennae with 12 segments, mandibles with a proximal tooth on the basal margin, and eyes that are large and elongate and more than 1.5 times as long as wide. Pseudomyrmex gracilis has erect hairs covering its body.

Pseudomyrmex is a genus of stinging, wasp-like ants. Pseudomyrmex gracilis is known for its terrible sting. The elongate twig ant feeds on insects (especially moth and butterfly larvae) and fungus spores. They also tend aphids and eat the honeydew.

Originally from Mexico, this species is now found in the southern United States, Hawaii, and South America.

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Family Formicidae

Pseudomyrmex sp. ... Twig Ant

On February 24, 2014 this twig ant was discovered crawling on the pant leg of the photographer.

On March 3, 2014, it was identified from this photograph as either Pseudomyrmex gracilis or Pseudomyrmex seminole by Dr. Mark Deyrup, Senior Research Program Director and Research Biologist at the Archibold Biological Station in Central Florida.

Based on its shorter eyes than the ants shown above (Pseudomyrmex gracilis), I suspect this is Pseudomyrmex seminole. Another characteristic that supports my decision is the orange-brown body color, which is characteristic of this species. But, this species name needs to be verified.

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Family Formicidae

Solenopsis geminata ... Red Fire Ant / Tropical Fire Ant

On November 15, 2015, this ~4.5 mm long ant was captured in a pitfall trap that had been left overnight in sand and leaf litter in the central portion of the Smith Preserve, adjacent to an oak hammock north of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On December 14, 2016, the genus was identified by Brendon E. Boudinot, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. He stated, "Solenopsis, probably in the geminata group. James Trager could confirm. Scope the 2-segmented antennal club."

Below is a frontal view of the ant, as well as a close-up of its antennal club.

James Trager, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, confirmed the genus, but stated that "4.5 mm is too large for this ant by about 1.5 mm, unless you encounter a large major worker, which this is not." The ant was measured again, and the webmaster measured ~4.5 mm. Note: the space between the lines below = 1 mm.

There are several species of fire ants in Florida. This specimen, Solenopsis geminata, the red fire ant (aka. tropical fire ant) is native. Because of its similarity to Solenopsis invicta, the red imported fire ant, the two species are somewhat difficult to tell apart.

As can be seen below, generally red imported fire ants are darker in color, usually a dark red, while the red native fire ants are a lighter orange to orange/red. Also, the red native fire ants usually have more hairs than the red imported fire ants.

Mark Deyrup's 2017 book Ants of Florida Identification and Natural History, p. 104 describes studies that show that major workers of geminata have massive jaws powered by strong muscles originating in the bulging occipital lobes of the heads. The jaws are used for milling seeds and are not generally used for defense of the nest, foraging, carrying objects, excavating, or caring for young. In a laboratory study, majors of geminata used them only for grinding seeds and for self grooming. Solenopsis geminata harvest and consume certain seeds so efficiently that the ant species can alter the abundance of preferred host plants, especially certain grasses.

The sting of geminata is painful, like that of invicta.

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Family Formicidae

Solenopsis invicta ... Red Imported Fire Ant

Native to Brazil, Solenopsis invicta was accidentally introduced to Florida in the 1940s. The species name "invicta" means "unconquered ant." This refers to the fact that on a large scale, there is no effective way to control this aggressive fire ant. Individuals breed and colonies spread quickly. If disturbed, the colony relocates.

As shown in these two microscopic photographs taken of individuals collected at the Smith Preserve, Solenopsis invicta have hairs and an extended stinger. They are small (2 to 6 mm in length) and reddish-brown in color. Workers are differentiated into several different body forms.

The sting of a fire ant causes a pustule to form on the skin. They are omnivores and eat fruits, sugars, insects, and meat. They reduce populations of many native insects and attack newly hatched ground-nesting birds. Shown below, the eyes of a Sylvilagus floridanus (Eastern Cottontail Rabbit) that died in the Smith Preserve, were quickly covered by fire ants.

Solenopsis invicta colonies differ in size and shape, but all have an internal structure that is honeycombed. Surface mounds may or may not be evident. Below are the surface structures of two colonies. The first is a large mounded area of sand in a grassy area of the Smith Preserve. The other is a line of small mounds in an open scrub area.

Solenopsis invicta are well adapted to cope with environmental change. If sand becomes saturated, fire ants extend the nest above the surface. If completely flooded, an entire colony can cling to floating debris or join legs to make a floating raft.

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Family Formicidae

Strumigenys eggersi ... Pigmy Snapping Ant

On February 10, 2016, this 1.25 mm long ant was living in leaf litter under Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) trees in the northwest-quadrant hammock of the Smith Preserve, north of Smith Preserve Way. The litter was collected and placed into a Berlese funnel.

After being separated from the sample, these photographs (Image 1: Dorsal View; Image 2: Ventral View, Image 3: Lateral View, Image 4: Head, Image 5: Petioles) were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On February 24, 2016, the genus was identified by Scott McCluen, Contributor to <BugGuide.net.>.

Strumigenys is a genus that includes species that are tiny predators with oddly-shaped mandibles. Using these mandibles, individuals capture different kinds of arthropods.

There are several hundred species in the genus. They are common in warm climates worldwide, but are not often seen because of their small size, slow movements, and camouflaged colors.

Mandible morphology and body sculpture help distinguish different species. After looking at online photographs of the genus, the webmaster thought this individual looked a lot like Strumigenys eggersi. That species has been photographed at Archbold Biological Station, Venus, Florida. The Archbold Biological Station ants and the one shown here have long converging mandibles and other body structure similarities.

On February 26, 2016, Dr. Mark Deyrup, Senior Research Biologist at Archbold Biological Station confirmed that this ant is Strumigenys eggersi. According to Dr. Deyrup, this species is considered an invasive, exotic that was introduced from the Neotropics. Dr. Deyrup said there is no evidence that the ant causes any problems. The species is extremely common in South and Central Florida in both natural and disturbed areas.

Food for S. eggersi is mainly collembolans.

On December 9, 2015, the 1.5 mm long individual at right and below was living in pine straw litter beneath a Pinus elliottii (Southern Florida Slash Pine) in the southeastern quadrant of the Smith Preserve.

Image 1 is a lateral view that shows the pair of spines on the epinotum (the first abdominal segment when it is fused with the last thoracic one.); Image 2 is a ventral view, showing the heart-shaped head of this species.

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Family Formicidae

Tapinoma melanocephalum... Ghost Ant

This 1.5 mm long individual was found on December 17, 2014, living in leaf litter in an oak hammock in the northeast corner of the Smith Preserve. It was extracted from the leaf litter using a Berlese Funnel; these photographs were produced using photomicroscopy.

On December 30, 2014, James C. Trager, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology, confirmed the identification.

Ghost ants can be recognized by their dark brown head, brown abdomen, and pale legs and gaster (abdomen). They are called ghost ants because the legs and abdomen look transparent, or ghost-like.

Ghost ants eat sweets, grease, and occasionally living and dead insects. They have an affinity to moist environments. A colony may consist of several queens with several thousand workers.

 

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Family Formicidae

Technomyrmex difficilis... White-Footed Ant

On December 2, 2015, this 3 mm long ant and others like it were tending aphids on a Crotolaria pallida var. obovata (Smooth Rattlebox) plant, growing in the scrub at the Smith Preserve. Photographs were created using photomicroscopy and the species was identified by the following characteristics: black body, yellow tarsi (last part of the leg), five visible gastral plates, and a node on the petiole (narrow waist).

These photographs were sent for identification confirmation to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. On March 1, 2016, confirmation was made by James Trager, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>.

The white-footed ant is an exotic species, originally from the old world. It was first found in Florida in 1986, and it is now widely distributed throughout the state. Just as was found with this particular ant and the others it was with, the species is known for tending aphids and other homopterans that produce honeydew.

Individuals do not bite, sting, or cause structural damage, but they are considered a nuisance pest because they frequent the interior and exterior of buildings looking for sweet food. Colonies are very large, ranging from 8,000 to 3 million individuals.

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Family Formicidae

Trachymyrmex septentrionalis... Fungus Growing Ant

On August 7, 2013, Dr. Mark Deyrup, Senior Research Program Director and Research Biologist at the Archibold Biological Station in Central Florida, identified the ants in these photographs as Trachymyrmex septentrionalis.

Family Formicidae, which includes all ants, is divided into subfamilies, which are further divided into tribes. Trachymyrmex septentrionalis is in Tribe Attini. All members of Tribe Attini are fungus-growing ants, and are referred to as attine ants. Fungus ants are ground-nesting species, common in open, sandy, upland areas.

There are many different species of attines. All have a mutualistic association with a type of fungus. Attines vary in colony size and in the foods they collect for their fungus.

Trachymyrmex septentrionalis has the most extensive distribution of any species of attine ant in the United States. This species exists from Texas to Florida and north to central Illinois, southern Ohio, and Long Island, New York. Many colonies have been seen in the sandy scrub area of the Smith Preserve.

As shown in these photographs, Trachymyrmex septentrionalis has a dull brown integument (skin) with spines and tubercles (rounded nodules). Sometimes, individuals have a condition known as a "bloom." The "bloom" looks like whitish granular deposits scattered on the integument. The "bloom", which may be caused by crystalline wax, gives the ant a grayish, dusty appearance.

Trachymyrmex septentrionalis has a cordate (heart-shaped) head, 11-segmented antennae, a spine at each occipital corner (above the eyes, posterior of the head), and spines on the thorax.

 

A fungus ant mound has a distinctive crescent-shape, composed of little clumps of sand. As shown in the photograph below, the clumps are ant-loads of moist sand brought up from far below the surface. The ants pile up the sand on the downhill side so the sand will not wash back into the burrow when it rains.

A new colony begins when winged queens and males emerge in the morning from existing colonies to mate midair. In Florida, most mating takes place in mid to late June during the rainy season. This is when the surface soil is damp and most easily penetrated, and air humidity is high enough for the survival of the delicate fungus.

After mating, a queen uses her legs to help remove her wings, and she begins digging into the sand with her mandibles. The diameter of the tunnel she excavates is only slightly wider than her own diameter (about 2 or 3 mm). She enlarges the blind end of the tunnel at one side to create a chamber into which she ejects the contents of her infrabuccal pocket (a filtering device located in the oral cavity). The contents contain bits of the parental nest fungus.

Next, she leaves the nest to collect materials on which to grow the fungus. As the garden begins growing, she lays eggs on top of the fungus. When the eggs hatch, she feeds the larvae hyphae (branching filamentous structures) from the fungus. These first offspring pupate and mature to become workers. Once they mature, the workers enlarge the queen's tunnel and the garden chamber.

An additional task workers must perform is tending the subterranean fungus garden for the growing colony. To create the compost that is needed, they spend a lot of time collecting surface materials and carrying the materials deep into the burrow. They use sensory cells at the tips of their antennae to detect the suitability of the materials. Suitable materials include dead flowers, fragments of leaves, insect feces (particularly those from wood-boring beetles and caterpillars), wood particles, and even carcasses of arboreal ants they find on the ground. The ants lick and chew the materials thoroughly and often defecate on them before placing them on the garden. Since fungus ants culture only one type of fungus; workers selectively culture it, and weed out all other fungus and bacteria. They also ventilate the compost to maintain the correct temperature and moisture.

Shown below are three workers that have found leaves and are headed back to the colony compost pile.

The queen continues laying eggs. Eventually the colony has three distinct casts: workers (virgin females), queens (reproductive females), and males. All casts as both larvae and adults depend on the fungus for food.

As the colony grows, workers assume more roles. They 1) feed the larvae by placing fungus directly onto their mouthparts, 2) lick the integument of the larvae. This grooms the larvae and may transfer pheromones that help unify the colony, 3) lick away the thin pupal envelope to free new adults, 4) assist a newly emerged queens by licking them and bending the fragile wings and appendages until the new integument has hardened, 4) groom each other, 5) lay unfertilized eggs that are either eaten by colony members or develop into males.

Older colonies may be connected by one to a few tunnels, have several chambers, and include a few hundred individuals.

Both parasites and predators attack fungus ants. Mites (Garmania sp.) attach themselves, while two ants (Neivamyrmex nigrescens and Gnamptogenys hartmani) are known to raid colonies.

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Family Formicidae

Wasmannia auropunctata... Little Fire Ant / Electric Ant

On December 29, 2014, this 1.5 mm ant, and 75 others like it, was extracted from a 1 gallon sample of pine needle litter collected beneath a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) in the southwest quadrant of the Smith Preserve. It was separated from the litter with a Berlese Funnel. Photographs were created using photomicroscopy.

The ant was identified from these photographs on February 18, 2015 by Matthew Prebus, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

On November 15, 2016, a series of 10 pit traps were placed in sand and Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) leaf litter under the northern edge of a severely trimmed sand live oak in the northwest quadrant of the Preserve, just south of the Smith Preserve Way bridge. Two 1 mm long ants were collected. The one below was photographed using photomicroscopy and sent to <BugGuide.net> for identification. On December 1, 2016, it was identified by Brendon E. Boudinot, a contributor to <BugGuide.net>. His comment was, "Yikes! You have the nasty invasive "little fire ant", Wasmannia auropunctata.

Typically these ants are a golden-brown color. They are social ants native to Central and South America, but they have spread to parts of Africa, North America, several Pacific Islands, and north-eastern Australia.

Workers, like the one in these photographs have two segmented pedicels (waists). Antennae have 11 segments with a distinct club, constructed of two enlarged segments. The thorax has long, sharp spines and the body is sparsely covered with long, erect hairs.

The common name "electric ant" is used because of the ant's very painful sting relative to its very small size.

This species is blamed for reducing species diversity of flying and tree-dwelling insects and eliminating arachnids. Because it eats hatchlings of tortoises and attacks the eyes and cloacae of adult tortoises in the Galapagos, it is considered possibly the greatest ant species threat in the Pacific area.

At present, it is not known what affect these ants may be having on the gopher tortoise population at the Smith Preserve.

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Family Halictidae

Agapostemon splendens ... Metallic Green Bee / Sweat Bee

Fifty-five halictid species live in Florida. Eight of these are bright metallic green.

Agapostemon splendens, like other halictids, are solitary bees. Females gather pollen and nectar from a variety of plants. The first five photographs shown here are females collecting both substances from Opuntia humifusa (Prickly Pear Cactus).

A female digests some of the nectar she drinks, but most is regurgitated to moisten the mass of pollen on her legs. She carries pollen on the tibia and femur of her hind legs. It is possible to carry the pollen bundle because she has a scopa (an area of long dense hairs) on the hind tibia.

Shown at left, a female uses her mandibles to manipulate a bundle of pollen that she will later attach to her scopa (shown in the next two photographs.)

After filling her scopa, she will fly to her nest in a deep burrow in the soil and feed the pollen to her single larva. She raises one larva at a time. A mature larva is grub-like in appearance, without setae (hairs), and usually less than 15 mm long. A pupa is very delicate and rarely seen. The pupal stage is a very brief developmental period of its life.

On March 8, 2014, the individual shown in the five photographs above was identified by John S. Ascher, Contributing Editor of <bugguide.net>, hosted by Iowa State Entomology Department.

The three bees shown below are Agapostemon splendens males, identified by John S. Ascher on September 27, 2013. As seen, males are typically more slender than females, do not collect pollen on a scopa, and have a yellow clypeus (sclerite below the antennae on the face). The bees shown here have yellow and black striped abdomens. The first two photographs below show an individual on Hibiscus moscheutos. (Swamp Rosemallow). The third photograph was of an individual on Ludwigia peruviana (Peruvian Primrose Willow). The last individual was on Balduina angustifolia (Yellow Buttons). Although males do not collect pollen to feed young, pollen sticks to their hairs as they eat nectar. Note the orange pollen grains, resembling little balls stuck to the head and thorax of the individual in the first photograph below.

Both female and male Agapostemom sp. are important pollinators.

Sometimes adult halictid bees are called sweat bees because they land on bare skin and drink sweat. Sweat contains many important ingredients they need including water, salt, and other substances.

On December 30, 2015, the 9 mm long wasp below was captured in a sweep net sample taken in low, dry vegetation growing along the Smith Preserve eastern fence just South of Smith Preserve Way. Photographic images were sent to <BugGuide.net for identification. This individual was identified on January 15, 2016 by John S. Ascher.

On December 13, 2016, the 8 mm bee below was captured in a yellow bowl trap left overnight in a sandy area of the Smith Preserve near 14th Ave. N and a private residence. This individual was identified on January 6, 2017 by H.Go, a Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>.

 

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Family Megachilidae

Coelioxys sp. ... Cuckoo-Leaf-Cutter Bee

There are 46 species of Coelioxys in North America. All are cuckoo-leaf-cutter bees. The term cuckoo bee refers to a bee species that lays eggs in the nests of other bees. When one of its own eggs hatches, the larvae kills the host larvae and feeds on the pollen and nectar that was provisioned by the host female parent. This type of behavior classifies members of genus Coelioxys as cleptoparasites.

Female Coelioxys bees actively look for host nests of other leaf-cutter bee species. They wait until the female host mother leaves the nest and then the Coelioxys female slips into the nest, looks for a brood cell that is provisioned, lays an egg, and closes the cell with a leaf. Once the Coelioxys larvae hatches, it has large sickle-shaped mandibles with which to kill the host larvae.

Adult males and females visit flowers for nectar. This individual was photographed on Balduina augustifolia (Yellow Buttons).

Females have a sharply tapered abdomen, as is shown by the female in these photographs. She uses her abdomen to pierce through layers of leaf pieces that line brood cells of the host.

 

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Family Megachilidae

Coelioxys sp. ... Cuckoo-Leaf-Cutter Bee

This bee was photographed as it collected pollen from Balduina augustifolia (Yellow Buttons) on November 24, 2014. It was identified on February 5, 2015 from these photographs by John S. Ascher, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Cuckoo-Leaf-Cutter Bees are cleptoparasites, often of leaf cutter bees in genus Megachile. Several species of Megachile have been photographed at the Preserve. (Scroll down to read about them).

A female Coelioxys has a tapered abdomen ending in an acute point. A male has a pronged or multi-spined abdomen. The individual in these photographs appears to be a male. Based on other structural differences and color patterns, this individual and the female Coelioxys described above appear to be different species, but an expert is needed to confirm this statement.

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Family Megachilidae

Lithurgopsis gibbosa ... Leaf Cutter Bee

As shown in these photographs, Lithurgopsis gibbosa, like other leaf cutter bees, packs its pollen on scopa (stiff hairs) on the bottom of the abdomen. This is unlike most other families of bees that store pollen on their legs.

This individual, about the size of a honeybee, was on Opuntia humifusa (Prickly Pear Cactus.) On February 2, 2014, it was identified from these photographs by John S. Ascher, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.Net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

Leafcutting bees are important pollinators of wildflowers, fruits, and vegetables. Lithurogopsis gibbosa is known to feed on, and pollinate, cactus.

Lithurogopsis gibbosa nests in wood. Predators include velvet ants and some flies that attack the larvae in an unattended nest.

Parasitic bees lay eggs on the pollen and nectar in the leaf cutter bee's nest. Upon hatching, the parasitic larvae kill the leaf cutter bee larvae and eat the nectar and pollen. This type of parasitism is called cleptoparasitism.

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Family Megachilidae

Megachile pseudobrevis ... Southeastern Little Leaf-Cutter Bee

This bee was identified from these photographs by Keng-Lou James Hung (Contributing Editor for <BugGuide.Net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology) on July 31, 2013 as genus Megachile. On February 28, 2014, the species was identified as M. pseudobrevis by John S. Ascher, another Contributing Editor of the website.

All Megachile spp. females construct cigar-shaped nests, containing several cells. Each cell contains a pollen ball and a single egg.

Numerous families of wasps and bees parasitize Megachile spp. nests. In addition, ants are known to attack leaf cutter bee nests.

 

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Family Megachilidae

Megachile umbripennis ... Shadow-Winged Resin Bee

The male shadow-winged resin bee (shown in both of these photographs), Megachile umbripennis, was spotted eating nectar from Ludwigia peruviana (Peruvian Primrose) on November 7, 2012. The species is known to live in India, China, Thailand, Hawaii and the Marianas Islands. Until recently, it had not been seen in Florida. This individual was identified from these photographs by John S. Ascher (Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.Net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology, on July 25, 2013).

Megachile umbripennis is unlike many species of Megachile that use the cutting edges of their mandibles to cut leaves for lining nests. Megachile umbripennis lacks these mandibular structures and nest construction is much different. Female resin bees locate holes and burrows of other insects and natural cavities in wood. They construct nests from tree resin, sap, and bits of wood and mud.

Like the honeybee it mimics, Megachile umbripennis is a pollinator.

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Family Megachilidae

Megachile sp. (Subgenus Litomegachile) ... Leaf Cutter Bee

The individual shown in this photograph was Identified from this photograph on November 19, 2012 by John S. Ascher, Contributing Editor to <Bugguide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

According to information at the <Bugguide.net> site, there are 6 species of subgenus Litomegachile in our area.

Lithomegachile species are solitary cavity nesters. Females usually choose an existing cavity where they construct a nest of several cells. The cavity might be in wood, a plant stem, or in the ground. Cells are cylindrical in shape and placed in a linear arrangement. Leaves or petals are cut from plants, shaped to form cups, and glued together by the female biting the edges of the plant material to create adhesion.

The female in this photograph was collecting pollen from Balduina augustifolia (Yellow Buttons) to provision her nest. Note the pollen basket on the tibia of her hind leg.

 

 

 

Family Megachilidae

Unknown Species ... Leaf Cutter Bee

There are more than 65 species of Family Megachilidae bees in Florida. Some of these solitary bees get their common name from the female's behavior of cutting leaves. Shown here are circles and ovals cut from leaves. The bees that created these holes were not seen, but they are probably in the genus Megachile. This genus neatly cuts pieces of leaves or petals, while other genera in the family chew leaves or petals into fragments to build their nests. The genus Megachile gets its name from "mega" meaning "large: and "cheil" meaning "lip."

To cut a leaf, a female bee uses the cutting edges of its mandibles like a person uses scissors. Thin and flexible leaves are most desirable because they can be easily cut, carried, and molded to line the burrows of a nest. In Florida, the favorite leaves used by these bees include grapes, roses, and legumes. The species of the plant leaf in image one is unknown. Image two is Ximenia americana (Hog Plum.)

Most male and female leaf cutter bees are dark colored. Females have the underside of the abdomen covered with long, stiff hairs.

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Family Mymaridae

Camptoptera sp. ... Fairyfly / Fairy Wasp

Family Mymaridae are commonly known as fairyflies or fairy wasps because of their very small size.

Males, like the individual shown in these photographs have thread-like antennae, while females have antenna tipped by club-like segments. As seen in these photographs, the wings are slender and possess long bristles that give them a feathery appearance.

The adult lifespan is usually only a few days. These wasps are parasitoids of the eggs of other insects, and in fact, some species of mymarids are used as agents of biological pest control.

The .3mm long fairyfly wasp shown here was found floating in alcohol in a Berlese funnel sample of leaf litter collected on December 19, 2014 under a citrus tree in the northeast hammock of the Smith Preserve. The photograph was created using photomicroscopy.

On January 22, 2015, it was identified from these photographs by Dr. John Huber, Research Scientist and Chalcid Wasp Taxonomist with the Canadian National Collection of Insects in Ottawa, Canada. In an e-mail, Dr. Huber stated that on this specimen "there should be 5 tarsal segments, and the fore wing is curved apically. Also the fringe on the hind wing occurs on both anterior and posterior margins." These characteristics distinguish it from Tinkerbella nana and Kikiki huna, two fairyflies Dr. Huber helped describe. "Finally, 0.3-0.6 is the range for Camptoptera." Tinkerbella nana and Kikiki huna are smaller.

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Family Mymaridae

Gonatocerus sp. ... Fairyfly / Fairy Wasp

On January 3, 2017, a yellow bowl trap was left overnight in an open, sandy area of the Smith Preserve on the western berm of the dry retention pond. When the trap was examined the next day, this 1 mm long, yellow, parasitic wasp had been captured.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 4, 2017, the family name was identified by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are 200 species in 32 genera of this family in our area and 1,400 species in 100 genera worldwide. They are among the smallest of insects, ranging in size from 0.2 to 1 mm. They have stalked, narrowly elongate hindwings. The antennae of females are long and clubbed, while the antennae of males are filiform. As is discernible from these photographs, this individual is a female.

Members of Family Mymaridae are insect egg parasitoids.

On August 23, 2017, the genus of this specimen was identified by Zachary Lahey, a <BugGuide.net> Contributor. He stated, "Almost certainly falls into the Gonatocerus group of genera. John Huber has a recent paper on this, probably in Zootaxa."

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are 37 species in this genus in our area and 265 species worldwide. Individual wasps are ~1.8 mm long.

A female Gonatocerus is parthenogenic, which means it can form from an egg that has not been fertilized. Each mature female can parasitize as many as 15 leafhopper eggs per day.

A leaf hopper egg that has been parasitized is brownish-yellow to reddish-yellow, while unparasitized eggs are white. Development of a Gonatocerus individual from an egg takes 11 to 17 days.

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Family Mymaridae

Unknown Species ... Fairyfly / Fairy Wasp

On January 23, 2017, this ~.2 mm parasitic wasp was living in leaf litter beneath a Psychotria nervosa (Shinyleaf Wild Coffee) bush and a Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) tree that were growing just southeast of the Smith Preserve pond, not far from the gopher tortoise fence adjacent to the Conservancy parking lot.

The wasp was collected with several hundred other invertebrates in a one gallon bag of leaf litter that was processed through a Berlese funnel.

Photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for confirmation identification that the wasp was a female member of Family Mymaridae to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On April 14, 2017, the sex and family were confirmed by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

The webmaster notes that this Mymarid is similar looking to the one above, but there are distinct differences. The body shape is different with the thorax of the one above distinctly wider than the abdomen. The entire body of this one is more elongate than the one above. Also the hind wing of the one above has more bristles. The forewing of this specimen, unlike the one above, does not appear to be apically curved.

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Family Mymarommatidae

Unknown Species ... False Fairy Wasp

On January 3, 2017, this ~.4mm long wasp was living in leaf litter that had accumulated on top of a Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) trunk in the central section of the Smith Preserve, just north of Smith Preserve Way.

It was isolated from the litter by using a Berlese funnel, and photographs were created using photomicroscopy. These images were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 4, 2018, the specimen was identified as a member of Superfamily Mymarommatoidea by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Ross stated, "Mymarommatoidea ...The reticulated surface of the forewing and shape of the petiole are suggestive for this group. This might be a rarely seen male. A nice catch, Susan."

[Note: "The reticulated surface" refers to the forewing having a pattern of interlacing lines, forming a netlike framework. The wasp's petiole is the slender stalk between the abdomen and thorax].

There is only one family in Superfamily Mymarommatoidea ... Family Mymarommatidae. According to <BugGuide.net>, in this family, there are only 10 living species in one genus that have been described. Others are known as fossils. The Mymarommatids are extremely small (0.4 mm to 0.7 mm in length.

According to Ross Hill, Gibson (1993) placed Mymarommatidae in its own superfamily (Mymarommatoidea). The distinguishing characters of the family are a 2-segmented petiole (other chalcidoids have a 1-segmented petiole or are indistinctly petiolate), forewing with a reticulate surface (smooth in other chalcidoids) and a marginal fringe of long setae, face triangular in frontal view with mandibles not meeting (round to square in other chalcidoids, occasionally approaching an inverted triangle in a few species and with mandibles meeting except for a few eulophid species), and the metanotum and propodeum without a visible suture between the sections (chalcidoids with a suture). Palaeomymar is the only current genus."

Very little is known about the biology of these insects, but entomologists assume they are parasitoids on the eggs of various insects.

According to page 424 of Evolution of the Insects by David Grimaldi and Michael S. Engel, Cambridge University Press,"mymarommatids are notable for their two-segmented petiole, reticulate forewing membrane, and reduced and forked hind wing (which are haltere-like and consist of a single vein). Although the function is entirely unknown, mymarommatids also have a peculiar bellows-like structure on the back of the head, with the posterior surface separated by a pleated membrane that is capable of expanding and contracting. If these tiny wasps are egg parasitoids, which is likely, the head bellows may be a mechanism for bursting from the host egg."

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Family Platygastridae

Dyscritobaeus sp. ... True Bug (Heteroptera) Egg Parasitoid Wasp

On December 13, 2016, this 1 mm long wasp was captured in a pitfall trap that had been placed in the Smith Preserve near 14th Ave N and a private residence. The trap was put in sand and dried grass and left overnight.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On December 22nd, the following message was received from Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.com>:

"Comment by Dr. Lubomir Masner…
'This little wasp is well known to me from Florida and elsewhere in SE USA. It belongs to genus Dyscritobaeus Perk. (Platygastroidea, Scelioninae) and is still an undescribed species. Individuals may be fully winged or micropterous. The putative hosts are true bugs (Heteroptera). The genus is almost world wide in distribution; the African species were recently revised'.

Great find, Susan. A new genus page can be created for this wasp [Scelioninae, Dyscritobaeus, Perkins 1910]."

Note from this webmaster: As indicated above, the genus was first described by Robert Cyril Layton Perkins, a distinguished British Entomologist in 1910.

Examination of the third and fourth images above show that this particular wasp has diminutive wings. These are the "micropterous" (ie. reduced) wings referred to by Dr. Masner.

 

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Family Platygastridae

Embidobia sp. ... Webspinner Egg Parasitoid Wasp

On November 15, 2016, this .75 mm long parasitic wasp was removed from a yellow bowl trap that had been left overnight in sand and leaf litter at the base of a severely trimmed Quercus geminata (Sand Live Oak) tree in the northwest quadrant of the Smith Preserve just south of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs (Image 1: lateral view; Image 2: dorsal view, Image 3: frontal view; Image 4: close-up of antenna) were created using photomicroscopy.

Images were sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On August 23, 2017, the specimen was identified as a female Embidobia by Zachary Lahey, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Lahey's statement, "Great catch- Embidobia female. Egg parasitoids of webspinners."

Webspinners have been found in the Smith Preserve and are shown and described at this link.

 

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Family Platygastridae

Gryon sp. ... Hemipteran Egg Parasitoid Wasp

On November 17, 2015, this .7mm long parasitic wasp was captured in a pitfall trap placed beneath a Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) tree just north of Smith Preserve Way. This photograph was created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology .

On January 4, 2016, the individual was identified as a member of Family Platygastridae by Brad Barnd, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>. That day the family was confirmed by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Hill stated, "The antennal insertion points near the clypeus, and the sharp lateral margins of the abdomen are suggestive for this group." [The clypeus is the broad plate at the front of an insect's head.]

According to <BugGuide.net>, members of this family range in size from 0.45 to 4 mm in length. They are egg parasites of at least seven different orders of insects. Some species of the family are very host specific, while others parasitize a variety of different species. Mother wasps often stay near the parasitized eggs, keeping other egg parasites away until her offspring emerge. There are nearly 500 species in 55 genera in our area.

Based on its size, color, and antennal shape, the webmaster assumes this specimen is a Gyron sp. like the ones that have been identified by <BugGuide.net> experts below.

 

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On November 17, 2015, this 1 mm long wasp was also captured in a pitfall trap left overnight in sand and leaf litter beneath a Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) tree, growing north of Smith Preserve Way.

These two photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

 

 

On August 23, 2017, the specimen was identified by Zachary Lahey as a member of Superfamily Platygastroidea and Family Platygastridae. He stated, "Almost positive it's a Gryon."

 

 

 

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On December 13, 2016, the .8 mm long specimen shown below was captured in a pitfall trap placed overnight in sand and leaf litter adjacent to Chromolaena odorata (Jack-In-The-Bush), growing in the Smith Preserve near 14th Ave N and a private residence.

These three photographs were created by photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>.

On December 31, 2016, the individual was confirmed to be a member of Family Platygastridae by "twiztedminds", a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. "Twiztedminds" identified the subfamily as Scellionidae.

On August 23, 2017, the genus was identified by Zachary Lahey, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. According to <BugGuide.net> there are 17 species in Genus Gryon in our area and more than 330 species in the world.

Gryon spp are egg parasites of hemipterans.

 

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On January 13, 2017, as the Conservancy science volunteer team was removing exotics along the southern tortoise fence adjacent to 14th Ave N, a mass of nesting material was retrieved from vines.

The nesting material consisted of Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) fibers. The fibers were collected in a gallon bag and placed in a Berlese funnel to isolate invertebrates from the fibers.

This .9 mm long wasp was one of the many invertebrates in the sample. Photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>.

On February 15, 2017, the wasp was identified as a member of Family Platygastridae, Subfamily Scelioninae by Ross Hill.

Members of the subfamiy are often black, often highly sculptured, and typically have elbowed antennae with 9 or 10 segments.

As shown in the photograph at left, this individual has elbowed antennae, but each antenna appears to have more than 10 segments.

On August 23, 2017, Zachary Lahey identified this specimen as another Gryon. He stated: "Probaby a male Gryon.

 

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Family Platygastridae

Idris sp. ... Spider Egg Parasitoid Wasp

On March 22, 2016, this .9 mm long parasitoid wasp with very distinctive antennae was in a leaf litter collection obtained under a large Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto). The saw palmetto was growing in the north central section of the Smith Preserve, north of the bridge. Specimens were isolated from the sample with a Berlese funnel.

These three photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Entomology Department.

On November 30, 2016, the genus was identified by Ross Hill, a contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are 8 species in our area and more than 150 species worldwide. The larvae of Idris are parasitic in the egg sacs of spiders.

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Family Platygastridae

Trimorus sp. ... Beetle Egg Parasitoid Wasp

On December 13, 2016, this 1 mm long parasitic wasp was captured in a yellow bowl trap that had been left over night on top of a sandy ridge in the southeast region of the Smith Preserve near 14th Ave. N and a private residence.

These photographs (dorsal, ventral, and lateral) were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On December 14, 2016, the specimen was recognized as a member of Family Platygastridae, Subfamily Scelioninae by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. According to <BugGuide.net> sometimes this group is "considered in its own family, Scelionidae. Scelionids are parasitoids of insect and spider eggs."

On August 23, 2017, the specimen was identified as Superfamily Platygastroidea: Family Platygastridae: Subfamily Teleasinae by Zachary Lahey, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Zachary stated, "Probably a male Trimorus." According to <BugGuide.net> Subfamily Teleasinae was formerly Tribe Teleasini in Family Scelionidae. There are ~100 species of Genus Trimorus in our area and almost 400 species worldwide. The host food are eggs in the beetle family Carabidae.

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Family Platygastridae

Unknown Species ... Egg Parasitoid Wasp

On November 17, 2015, this .7 mm long parasitic wasp was captured in a pitfall trap left over night in sand and leaf litter beneath a Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) tree, north of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On December 17, 2016, the family was identified by "twiztedminds", a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are about 500 species in 55 genera in Family Platygastridae in our area. They are all egg parasites. Hosts include insects of at least 7 different orders. "The mothering wasps often do stay with the parasitized eggs until they are emergent, mostly to keep other egg parasites away.

At first glance, this specimen looks similar to the two specimens above, but there are subtle differences in the shape of the antennal segments and color patterns of the legs.

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Family Platygastridae

Unknown Species ... Egg Parasitoid Wasp

On December 10, 2013, 16 green lacewing eggs were found hanging down in a vertical position from a dead branch. After this photograph was taken, the branch was removed and taken to a location where the egg development could be photographed.

In transport, one egg was accidently bumped off and another appeared to have hatched.

In the photograph below, taken five days later (December 15th), the remaining eggs were becoming dark.

As shown below, on December 22nd, one wasp emerged from each of the 14 remaining lacewing eggs.

At far left, a wasp perches on an empty egg case. Below, each wasp is less than 1 mm long.

It is unknown when the lacewing eggs were laid, or when they were parasitized. But, the platygastrid wasp mother inserted one of her eggs into each of the lacewing eggs.

During their development, each wasp larva fed on the non-vital tissues of a lacewing larva. Eventually the wasp larva consumed all of the lacewing larva, and pupated. On December 22nd, each wasp, having matured to a winged adult, chewed the end off the egg and emerged. Then, they dispersed and no additional photos could be taken.

The wasps were identified on April 23, 2014 from these photographs by Ross Hill, Contributor to <Bugguide.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology Department. Mr. Hill's comments about the photos: "Love the image of the emergence (great timing). There are quite a few families of chalcid wasps, and a few platygastrids that are associated with lacewing eggs. Your close-up suggests a platygastrid such as Telenomus, which is an example of an egg parasitoid that attacks a wide variety of hosts including the eggs of lacewings. It would be difficult to confirm this genus, however, without a good dorsal view."

There are over 1,100 species in Family Platygastridae; all are parasitoids, small (1-2 mm), and shiny black with elbowed antenna.

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Family Platygastridae

Unknown Species ... Egg Parasitoid Wasp

On March 22, 2016, this .8 mm long wasp was collected under a Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto) in a leaf litter sample. The saw palmetto was growing in the north central section of the Smith Preserve, north of Smith Preserve Way. Specimens were isolated from the sample with a Berlese funnel.

These four photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology. The images below are frontal and dorsal views.

On December 3, 2016, the family was identified by "twiztedminds", a contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

All members of Family Platygastridae are parasitoids of arthropod eggs.

 

 

Family Pteromalidae

Unknown Species ... Pteromalid Wasp

Three galls were removed from a branch of Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) in the Smith Preserve scrub on January 6, 2014. They were placed in a juice glass, and a tissue cover was secured to the top of the glass. Seven Laurel Oak Cynipid Gall Wasps emerged from the galls on January 18th.

On January 22nd, additional wasps began emerging from the galls. This process continued for more than a week. Some individuals resembled the Family Cynipidae wasps, and others, like the ones in these photographs and Torymus sp. another Chalcid Wasp, did not.

The identification of the family of this 2 mm long wasp was made from the first photograph on March 18, 2014 by Zachary Lahey, Contributor to <Bugguide.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

All Chalcid wasps (Order Hymenoptera, Suborder Apocrita, Superfamily Chalcidoidea) have a metallic color. Most members of the superfamily are parasitoids of other insects. Family Pteromalidae is a very large family with approximately 3,450 species in 640 genera.

 

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Family Pteromalidae

Unknown Species ... Pteromalid Wasp

On December 19, 2014, this 1 mm long wasp was living in a sample of leaf litter that was collected under a citrus tree, growing in the Northeast Hammock of the Smith Preserve.

The wasp was isolated from the litter using a Berlese funnel. This photograph was created using photomicroscopy, and the photograph was sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On January 2, 2017, the wasp family was identified by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

Note this wasp is similar looking to the one above, but half its size.

According to <BugGuide.net>, Pteromalids "are parasites on a wide variety of hosts. Some are hyper parasitoids. The adults of some species feed on the body fluids of the host, after puncturing it with the ovipositor. Some [pteromalids are] used as biocontrols."

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Family Pteromalidae

Unknown Species ... Pteromalid Wasp

This 2 mm long wasp was captured in a sweep net sample from vines growing over a shrub in the scrub along the southern berm of the pond in November 2012. On December 25, 2014, it was identified from these photographs by Ross Hill, Contributor to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology. The first photograph below is a lateral view; the second is a dorsal view.

Family Pteromalidae is in Superfamily Chalcidoidea. The common name "Chalcid" is derived from the Greek word "khalkos" which means" copper." Many members of the superfamily Chalcidoidea are copper-colored.

This individual has very large coxae (the first segment of the leg where the leg joins the thorax.)

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Family Pteromalidae

Unknown Species ... Pteromalid Wasp

On December 30, 2015, this 2.5 mm long parasitic wasp was captured with a sweep net in low, dry vegetation that was growing in the northeast quadrant of the Smith Preserve just north of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On February 14, 2016, the wasp's family was identified by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are ~3,500 species in almost 600 genera worldwide. Members of the family are parasites on a wide variety of hosts. Larva are parasitoids and hyperparasitoids. Adult females of some species puncture the host insect with the ovipositor and feed on the body fluids.

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Family Pteromalidae

Unknown Species ... Pteromalid Wasp

On December 8, 2014, this 2.5 mm long wasp was captured in a sweep net used to collect insects in dry vegetation in the Smith Preserve.

These three photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On April 12, 2016, the wasp was identified as a member of Family Pteromalidae by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

This species is similar in appearance and size to the one immediately above, but there are distinctive differences. Abdominal shapes are different, as are the color of the legs and antennae.

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Family Scoliidae

Campsomeris dorsata ... Scoliid Wasp

The family name Scoliidae is derived from the Greek word “skolos,” which means bent, crooked, slanting, and oblique. Members of this wasp family have a notably curved posture.

Larvae of all members of the family are parasitoids of soil-inhabiting scarab beetle larvae. Females dig down to the host grub, sting it, lay an egg, and leave. The grub is paralyzed. When the wasp larva hatches from its egg, it feeds on the grub.

Adults eat nectar. The individual in this photograph was on a flower of yellow buttons (Balduina angustifolia).

Female Campsomeris dorsata wasps are black with two broad, dark reddish-yellow bands on the abdomen and long hind tibial spurs, as shown in these photographs.

Males are smaller, with less black. They have yellow eyes, three narrow yellow bands on the thorax, and four large bands on the abdomen.

The individual in these photographs above was identified by Ken Wolgemuth (Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology) on November 12, 2014.

 

The individual at left was spotted in the same location in the scub on the same flowers on November 17, 2014.

 

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Family Scoliidae

Campsomeris trifasciata ... Scoliid Wasp

On April 20, 2015, this wasp was feeding on Emila sonchifolia (Purple Tasselflower).

It's curved body was the characteristic that lead the webmaster to suspect it is a member of Family Scoliidae.

The photographs of this wasp show it has gray eyes, two yellow/orange stripes on the thorax and four yellow/orange stripes on the abdomen.

On April 21, 2015, the family name of the wasp was confirmed by Ken Wolgenmuth, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology. Wolgenmuth also said he presumed it was a Campsomeris species. He said, "Campsomeris trifasciata is close."

On March 12, 2016, confirmation that the species is Campsomeris trifasciata was made by Bob Biagi, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Bob stated, "Male - Campsomeris trifasciata ... Ken is correct, this species is the only one with males that have yellow on the tibia of the middle legs. Also, the color is more of a deep yellow than both sexes of C. plumipes and he lacks the orange-brown apical abdominal segments of C. fulvohirta. (Florida range). "

 

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Family Scoliidae

Scolia nobilitata ... Scoliid Wasp

This individual was identified from these photographs by John S. Ascher (Contributing Editor of BugGuide.Net, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology, on August 1, 2013).

Family Scoliidae is a group of fairly large (10 to 15 mm long), stout-bodied wasps. In Florida, there are three genera represented by eight species.

Scoliids are often brightly patterned in red, yellow, white, or one of these colors in combination with black, as is Scolia nobilitata.

Scoliid wasp larvae are parasitoids of soil-inhabiting scarab beetle larvae. Adult wasps pollinate wildflowers. Note the pollen grains covering the head and thorax of the individual in this photograph.

 

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Family Signiphoridae

Unknown Species ... Chalcid Wasp

On December 29, 2014, this ~.5mm long female wasp was collected in a sample of pine needle litter under a Pinus elliottii densa (Southern Florida Slash Pine) tree. It was isolated from the litter, using a Berlese Funnel. These photographs were created using photomicroscopy, and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology..

On March 4, 2016, <BugGuide.net> Contributor, Zachary Lahey, wrote: "How many tarsal segments are there? If there are 3, it's a trichogrammatid. My guess is that each tarsus is 5 segmented, making it a member of the Signiphoridae."

Additional photographs (shown below) were posted to <BugGuide.net>. As is shown in the close-up , this individual has a 5-segmented tarsus.

Family Signiphoridae is a small family of parasitic wasps in the Superfamily Chalcidoidea. There are four genera and ~80 species. Size ranges from .2 to 1.5 mm. Color is usually black, brown, or yellow. Occasionally they have salmon pink or white details. As can be seen in these photographs, this specimen was brownish-yellow. Some color could have be created by the tannins transferred from the pine needle and alcohol mixture in which the wasp was collected and stored.

Some other characteristics of this family include a sessile metasoma (no "wasp waist"), a long unsegmented antennal club (shown at left), preceded by 1 to 4 ring-like segments, and wings with medium to long marginal setae (hairs).

Most in the family are parasitoids or hyperparasitoids that are associated with scale insects, mealybugs, aphids, psyllids, gall-making flies , and fly predators of scales.

 

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Family Sphecidae

Ammophila procera ... Thread-Waisted Wasp

This individual was identified from these photographs on November 26, 2014 by John S. Ascher, Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Entomology Department.

On April 14, 2014, this female wasp was observed digging a burrow in the sand in the Smith Preserve. After mating, a female Ammophila procera digs multiple burrows in soft soil. Into each burrow she places a paralyzed caterpillar or other insect that she injected with venom. Then she lays a single egg on top of the insect and seals the burrow with dirt and debris. The egg hatches into a larvae that eats the insect. Later, the immature wasp pupates underground, and eventually emerges from the burrow as a winged adult.

The most distinctive characteristic of the adult is its very long, skinny abdomen that enlarges into a round bulb at the end. The abdomen has a red-orange band. Its black thorax has silver bars on the sides. Females, like this one average 29 mm in length; males are shorter, averaging 22 mm.

This species lives in open sandy areas of the Smith Preserve, where females build their burrows, and adults feed on flower nectar.

The species is preyed upon by birds, some assassin bugs, and some parasitic flies.

 

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Family Sphecidae

Prionyx sp. ... Thread-Waisted Wasp

Seven species of Prionyx are found in the United States. All have a globose abdomen, spiny legs, and a "thread-waist."

Like other members of Family Sphecidae, Prionyx sp. is a solitary wasp. A female wasp hunts and secures her prey, a grasshopper (often Melanoplus sp.), before digging a burrow. Each burrow ends in a single chamber, into which she places the grasshopper and one of her own eggs. After completing those tasks, she seals the burrow entrance and leaves to repeat the process.

During the process of digging and placing the grasshopper into the burrow, both she and her prey are vulnerable to parasites. For example, members of the fly family Sarcophagidae fly near the wasp and wait to deposit eggs on the grasshopper. Once the fly larvae hatch, they feed on the caterpillar intended as food for the larval wasp. This results in the wasp starving. This is another example of cleptoparasitism, this time by the Sarcophagid fly.

The Prionyx sp. above, covered in pollen and hanging onto a composite flower of Spermacoce verticillata (Scrubby False Buttonweed), was identified by John S. Ascher, (Contributing Editor of BugGuide.Net, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology, on August 1, 2013).

 

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Family Sphecidae

Sphex sp. ... Thread-Waisted Wasp

Sphex sp. is a large wasp (20 to 30 mm long) with a long, stalked abdomen, which gives its body a "thread-waisted appearance." Like most Sphecids, it nests in burrows in the ground, usually where there is little or no vegetation.

The Sphex sp. shown in these photographs is a black wasp with an orange and black abdomen. The wings are reddish and the legs and eyes are black.

A female Sphex sp. is a hunter of caterpillars. After capturing a caterpillar, she numbs it by pinching or crushing its neck with her pincer-like jaws. Then she paralyzes the caterpillar with toxins she injects with her stinger. She carries the caterpillar to a chamber in her burrow and lays an egg on top of the caterpillar. After hatching, the wasp larva consumes the host caterpillar.

Adults feed on nectar from flowers, plant nectaries, honeydew, and body fluids of their prey.

 

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Family Thynnidae

Myzinum sp. ... Thynnid Wasp

In November 2012, this thynnid wasp was caught in vines with a sweep net on the berm at the south end of the pond. On December 21, 2014, the wasp was identified from these photographs by John S. Ascher, Contributing Editor of <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

Both males and females in genus Myzinum have alternating black and yellow bands along their bodies and tawny yellow wings. But in other ways, male and female thynnid wasps are very different from one another. Females are larger (11 to 18 mm in length) and more robust, and they have curled antenna and thick hind femora. Males, like the individual shown here, are smaller (8 to 16 mm), more slender, and have straight antenna. The 1st photograph is a dorsal view of this 10 mm long male, while the 2nd photograph is the ventral view.

There are 10 species of Myzinum in our area. Typically they are found in grassy areas. A female lays one egg on the abdomen of each subterranean grub (typically scarab beetle larvae) she finds. She injects neurotoxins with her stinger into the grub to partially paralyze it. The wasp egg hatches and becomes a parasitoid of the grub. Eventually, the grub is completely devoured from the inside, and the wasp pupates.

Adult wasps eat nectar and pollinate flowers.

Some entomological sources place Myzinum in Family Tiphiidae instead of Thynnidae.

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Family Tiphiidae

Tiphia sp. ... Beetle-Killing Wasp

On March 4, 2015, this 7 mm long wasp was photographed as it rested on an orange hanging from a tree in the Smith Preserve. On March 7, 2015, it was identified from this photograph by John S. Ascher, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Department of Entomology.

There are 100 species of Tiphia in our area. All are a shiny dark color and have a similar appearance to winged black ants.

A female can smell the larva of a soil-inhabiting beetle in soil. She digs up the beetle, stings it, and inserts an egg. The wasp larva hatches to parasitize the beetle larvae (mainly Scarabaeidae, Rutelidae, and Cetoniidae species).

Wasp adults feed on nectar and pollen of flowers.

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Family Torymidae

Monodontomerus sp. ... Chalcid Wasp

On December 30, 2015, this 2.25 mm long parasitic wasp was captured with a sweep net in low, dry vegetation, growing along the gopher tortoise fence in the northeast section of the Smith Preserve, just north of Smith Preserve Way.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On February 4, 2016, the wasp was identified as a male Monodontomerus by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Hill stated that this was a good find.

The genus Monodontomerus can be identified by the prominent tooth under the hind femur near the tip. This structure is likely the origin of the genus name. "Mono" means "single" and "dontics" means "related to teeth.

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are 18 species in this genus in our area and 44 species worldwide.

Members of the genus parasitize a wide variety of insect hosts. Female wasps lay their eggs into the larva of other insects. Wasp larva are parasitoids, feeding on the internal organs of the host larva.

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Family Torymidae

Torymus sp. ... Chalcid Wasp

Three galls were removed from a branch of Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) in the Smith Preserve scrub on January 6, 2014. They were placed in a juice glass, and a tissue cover was secured to the top of the glass. Seven Laurel Oak Cynipid Gall Wasps emerged from the galls on January 18th.

On January 22nd, additional wasps began emerging from the galls. This process continued for more than a week. Some individuals resembled the Family Cynipidae wasps, and others, like the one in this photograph, did not.

On March 17, 2014, this species was identified as a Chalcidid Wasp, probably in Family Torymidae, by "twiztedminds", a Contributor to <bugguide.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology Department. The family name was confirmed and the genus identified by "Chalcidbear," another contributor, that same day.

As shown in this photograph, this species of Torymus has a metallic green color, and females have very long ovipositors.

 

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Family Torymidae

Torymus sp. ... Chalcid Wasp

As stated for the Torymus sp. above, three galls were removed from a branch of Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) in the Smith Preserve scrub on January 6, 2014. They were placed in a juice glass, and a tissue cover was secured to the top of the glass. Seven Laurel Oak Cynipid Gall Wasps emerged from the galls on January 18th.

On January 22nd, additional wasps began emerging from the galls. This process continued for more than a week. Some individuals resembled the Family Cynipidae wasps, and others, like the ones in these photographs, did not.

The photographs of the 2 to 3 mm long wasps shown here, were submitted to <Bugguide.net>, sponsored by the Iowa State University Entomology Department as additional photographs to help identify the species of a previously submitted photograph of a Torymus sp. The first photograph shows a female, with a long ovipositor. The second photograph is a male.

It was determined that the wasps shown here are another species of Torymus sp., not the previously submitted species. It was suggested by Bob Carlson, Contributing Editor to <Bugguide.net>, that these could be T. advenus, T. umbilicatus, or T. solidaginis, all of which are associated with cecidomyliid galls (gall flies), not with cynipids (galls wasps.) To help determine the correct identification, microscopic photographs of the propodeum (1st abdominal segment) will need to examined.

There are 400 species of Torymus worldwide. Ninety-percent are parasitoids of gall-forming insects of the families Cecidomyiidae and Cynipidae. Most Torymus species feed on host organisms living inside galls or other protected plant tissues.

The most common genera upon which their hosts are found are Quercus (oaks), Rosa (Roses), and members of the Family Asteraceae (The Aster, Daisy, or Sunflower Family.

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Family Trichogrammatidae

Oligosita sp. ... Chalcid Wasp

On December 13, 2016, this .5 mm long parasitic wasp was captured in a yellow bowl trap placed on a ridge of sand in an open area of the Smith Preserve near 14th Ave N and a private residence. The yellow bowl had been filled with soapy water the day before and left for 24 hours.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On December 13, 2016, the family was identified by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

According to <BugGuide.net>, there are 2 subfamilies, 41 genera, and 135 species in this family in our area. They range in size from 0.3 to 1.2 mm in length.

Characteristics include: 3-segmented tarsi, non-metallic color, and 1 or 2 funicular segments.

Most are "endoparasitoids of the eggs of Lepidoptera, Hemiptera, Coleoptera, Thysanoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera, and Neuroptera. Many species are used as pest control agents."

On August 23, 2017, this specimen was identified by Zachary Lahey, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. According to <BugGuide.net" there are 2 species in this genus in our area and 100 worldwide.

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Family Trichogrammatidae

Unknown Species ... Chalcid Wasp

On December 30, 2015, this .5mm long wasp was captured with a sweep net in low, dry vegetation, growing adjacent to the eastern gopher tortoise fence north of Smith Preserve Way. Photographs, created using photomicroscopy, were submitted for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On February 13, 2016, the wasp was identified as a chalcid wasp by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. Hill requested that I take additional photographs of the tarsi (the terminal segment of the leg). He said that would help identify the family.

On February 15, 2016, Joseph Fortier, a Contributing Editor to <BugGuide.net>, added "Perhaps Aphelinidae or Trichogrammatidae ...based on yellowish coloration and lack of constriction between mesosoma [middle part of the body] and gaster [bulbous posterior portion of the last part of the body]. It will be good to see images of the tarsi, as Ross suggested. Depending on the genus, if it is an aphelinid, tarsi would be 4 or 5 segmented. If it is a trichogrammatid, tarsi are 3 segmented. Also, a fore wing shot would be helpful. The setose antennae and club-like antennal apex make me lean toward Trichogrammatidae."

After additional photographs were posted to <BugGuide.net>, Ross identified the family as Trichogrammatidae on February 17, 2015. He based the ID on the wasp's three tarsal segments in the terminal leg joint.

Later that day, Fortier confirmed the family, "Aha - Trichogrammatidae -In chalcidoids in which the last segment of the antenna is swollen, the "funicle" is composed of the antennal segments between the 2nd antennal segment (the pedicel), and the swollen last segment. This 2-segmented funicle distinguishes Trichogrammatidae from Aphelinidae, since aphelinids always have more than 2 segments in the funicle. Your specimen has only 2. Thus, it is a trichogrammatid."

There are more than 840 species in 80 genera described in Family Trichogrammatidae; their distribution is worldwide. They parasitize eggs of many different types of insects and are used in the biological control of some pests.

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Family Trichogrammatidae

Unknown Species ... Chalcid Wasp

On December 13, 2016, this .6 mm long parasitic wasp was captured along with the one discussed above in the same yellow bowl trap placed on a ridge of sand in an open area of the Smith Preserve near 14th Ave N and a private residence. The yellow bowl had been filled with soapy water the day before and left for 24 hours.

These photographs were created using photomicroscopy and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

On December 13, 2016, this individual was identified by Ross Hill, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>. He stated, "The short marginal wing vein and lack of a postmarginal one is suggestive."

Trichogrammatids are called chalcid wasps because they belong to Superfamily Chalcidoidea.

On August 2017, this specimen was identified as a male by Zachary Lahey, a Contributor to <BugGuide.net>.

 

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Family Vespidae

Mischocyttarus mexicanus ... Paper Wasp

The genus( Mischocyttarus) was determined by Richard Vernier, (Contributing Editor of <bugguide.net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology,) on August 2, 2013. The species mexicanus was determined by Matthias Buck (Contributing Editor of <bugguide.net>) on November 30, 2013.

Vespids can be identified by the way they hold their wings along the sides of the body when at rest and their strongly notched eyes.

There are more than 200 species of Mischocyttarus wasps. All are are social.

Shown in this photograph, two females tend a nest. These paper wasps build a relatively simple, single comb nest. Their biology is similar to that of species in the genus Polistes (see information below), however Mischocyttarus spp. appear to be more social than Polistes spp.

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Family Vespidae

Pachodynerus erynnis ... Red and Black Mason Wasp

Adult red and black mason wasps are 1.3 cm long, with distinctive orange-red and black coloration. A male has a white to yellow five-sided spot on his face, while a female has a red spot on her face. From the angle of this photograph, it is not possible to see the face spot.

Pachodynerus erynnis is a solitary wasp that does not form colonies like yellow- jackets, hornets, or paper wasps. Instead, after mating, a female constructs a brood-rearing nest from dry soil she mixes with saliva to make mud. Sometimes a female will “refurbish” an old mud dauber's nest to create a brood nest in which to rear her own young. Other red and black mason wasp females create brood nests in hollow stems.

Once she completes the building of her brood nest, she hunts caterpillars, especially members of Family Noctuidae (cutworms, cabbage loopers, and armyworms) and beetle larvae. She stings the prey, paralyzing it. Next, she places each paralyzed insect larva in a separate brood cell and lays an egg on top of the larva. After hatching from its egg, the wasp larva feeds on the paralyzed larva.

As these adult wasps feed on nectar and pollen, they pollinate flowers. The individual in this photograph was feasting on Spermacoce verticillata (Shrubby False Buttonweed).

 

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Family Vespidae

Polistes dorsalis ... Paper Wasp

Polistes is the largest genus in Family Vespidae, with over 300 species and subspecies. Ten species of Polistes live in Florida.

This first photograph shown here of Polistes dorsalis was identified by Joseph C. Fortier (Contributor to <BugGuide.Net>, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology,) on August 1, 2013. The second and third photographs were identified as Polistes dorsalis, and the fourth, fifth, and sixth photographs as female Polistes dorsalis by Matthias Buck (Contributing Editor of <bugguide.net>) on November 30, 2013.

Like other members of Family Vespidae, Polistes spp. have a notch in the eye.

Polistes spp. are more slender than yellow jackets, another member of Family Vespidae, and in flight, Polistes spp. dangle their legs below their bodies.

They live in highly organized social colonies, with four stages to the life cycle of a Polistes nest. 1) During the first stage (Founding/Pre-emergence) phase, which begins in the spring, a solitary female (queen), or a small group of related females, begins construction of the nest. First a petiole (stalk) is created, and a single brood cell is built at its end. Additional cells are added in a hexagonal pattern. Each cell is surrounded by six other cells. The cells are open. 2) The next stage is the Working Phase. The queen lays eggs directly into the brood cells. She and any other females guard the eggs. After larvae hatch, the queen and any other females take paralyzed caterpillars they have injected with venom and chewed into meatballs to the larvae. The adults continue to feed the larvae as they grow. In the summer, these larvae mature to become non-reproductive adult female workers. Their job is to assist the queen in hunting caterpillars, caring for their future sisters, and maintaining the structure of the nest. 3) The 3rd phase begins in the fall. It is the Reproductive Phase. The queen lays eggs that develop into new queens and males. 4) The Intermediate Phase occurs when reproductive individuals leave the nest and mating occurs. This phase occurs in the fall. Brood care and foraging behavior decline, workers die and are not replaced, and the social cohesion of the nest declines.

Nests are constructed of paper made the pulp of fibers scraped from dried stems of tall weeds. The wasps in the photographs above may be scraping fibers. Like other social vespids, Polistes spp. have the cutting/chewing surface near the tip of the mandible rather than along the inner margin, as do nonsocial wasps.

Polistes dorsalis is one of the smaller Polistes species. They nest in shrubbery and beneath eaves. The last two photographs below show a female guarding a nest and closely observing the photographer. Note the petiole of the nest is attached to the underside of a Serenoa repens (Saw Palmetto).

 

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Family Vespidae

Polistes major major ... Paper Wasp

This male Polistes major major was identified from this photograph by Matthias Buck, (Contributing Editor of BugGuide.Net, hosted by Iowa State University Entomology) on August 1, 2013. It was feeding on nectar from the flowers of Salix floridana (Florida Willow).

Compared to many Vespids, this species is quite large (17 to 22 mm long), with a wingspan of 45 mm. Its color is mostly yellow with some brown markings. It has small yellow patches on the sides of the middle plate of thorax and a yellow band at the tip of the abdomen.

Polistes major males are known to mark perches and defend patrol routes with pheromones they release by rubbing their face and sternum on vegetation.

Polistes major major's nest has a central pedicel support and a maximum diameter of about 19 cm. It is typically created by the female under eaves, bridges, or hanging branches. The female preys mainly on caterpillars and treehopper nymphs which she collects to feed her larvae. The females below, guarding their nest, were identified by Matthias Buck (Contributing Editor of <bugguide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University Entomology Department) on November 30, 2013 as Polistes major.

Adult paper wasps eat nectar; larvae consume caterpillars. Polistes spp. are considered to be beneficial insects.

Birds, including Melanerpes carolinus (Red-bellied Woodpeckers) are predators of Polistes spp., as are several parasitoid species.

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Family Vespidae

Zethus slossonae ... Mason Wasp

As with other members of Family Vespidae, Zethus slossonae holds its wings along the sides of its body when at rest, and has strongly notched eyes. Also like other Vespids, the first abdominal segment is narrowly petiolate (constricted).

Many Zethus spp. make nests in twigs and branches using old insect burrows; others build nests using vegetable matter and resin.

There are approximately 189 species of Zethus living in the Western Hemisphere. Most are in the New World tropics, with the greatest number in Brazil. There are seven species in America north of Mexico and two of these are in Florida.

Zethus slossonae is endemic to Florida from Orlando southward to Key West. This wasp is black and red with yellow markings. The other Florida species, Zethus spinipes, is black with ivory markings.

Zethus spp. provision their nests with caterpillars for their larvae to consume. Very little else is known about the biology of this species.

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Family Vespidae

Unknown Species ... Potter Wasp

Potter wasps are members of Subfamily Eumenidae, the most diverse subfamily of vespids. With more than 200 genera and 3,200 species, most are black or brown and marked with patterns of yellow, white, orange, or red. However some tropical species have blue or green metallic highlights.

The common name "potter wasp" describes the shape of the individual mud cells these wasps create. It is believed that Native Americans used the shape of these wasp cells for their own pot designs.

Potter wasps are predators. Most species are solitary and construct cells one at a time. After completing each cell, the wasp normally lays an egg inside the cell. Then it collects a beetle larva, spider, or caterpillar, paralyzes it, and places it into the cell. Once the egg hatches, the larvae begins eating the paralyzed prey. An immature wasp spends its entire larval and pupal life in the cell. Eventually, the adult emerges and feeds on flower nectar. The complete life cycle from egg to adult lasts from a few weeks to more than a year, depending on the species and the geographic location.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Chalcid Wasp

As stated for the Torymus sp. above, three galls were removed from a branch of Quercus laurifolia (Laurel Oak) in the Smith Preserve scrub on January 6, 2014. They were placed in a juice glass, and a tissue cover was secured to the top of the glass. Seven Laurel Oak Cynipid Gall Wasps emerged from the galls on January 18th.

On January 22nd, additional wasps began emerging from the galls. This process continued for more than a week. Some individuals resembled the Family Cynipidae wasps, and others, like the one in this photograph, did not. In all, five different species of wasps emerged from the three galls.

The wasp shown here is 2 mm long. On March 30, 2014, it was determined from this photograph to be a chalcid wasp, a parasitoid of gall wasps, by Charlie Eisenman, a Contributing Editor of <Bugguide.net>, hosted by the Iowa State University Entomological Department. At this time, the family, genus, and species are unknown.

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Unknown Family

Unknown Species ... Parasitic Wasp

On February 23, 2016, this 1.2 mm long parasitized insect was found inside a curled leaf of a citrus tree growing in the north/central part of Smith Preserve. The insect was very flattened dorsoventrally, Using photomicroscopy, photographs were taken of each side and sent for identification to <BugGuide.net>, sponsored by Iowa State University's Department of Entomology.

A few days later, these images were e-mailed to Dr. Mark Deyrup, Senior Research Biologist at Archbold Biological Station in Venice, Florida. On March 16, 2016, Dr. Deyrup identified the structure inside the flattened insect as the pupa of a parasitic wasp. He commented, "The host might be a mealybug, whose thread-like mouthparts are at the lower end of the photo."

Hopefully, additional information can be learned from experts at <BugGuide.net> .

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© Photographs and text by Susan Leach Snyder (Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer), unless otherwise credited above.

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