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Manitoba Museum

Bees, Wasps, and Ants (Hymenoptera)

Ichneumonid Wasps


In Canada, there are an estimated 7000 species in this enormous group of wasps. They are internal or external parasitoids, using other insects as hosts. Wasps may attack the host itself or another parasite inside the host (hyperparasitism). Several wasp species may parasitize the same host (multiparasitism). Some species are used to help control insect pests. Adults feed on plant nectar or pollen, and typically visit plants in the Parsley, Aster, and Mustard families.

Representative Genera and Species:

Banchus, Campoplex, Coccygomimus, Cratichneumon, Cryptus, Diplazon, Enicospilus, Exyston, Gelis, Lissonata, Ophion, Rhyssa, Temelucha, Therion

Pollinator Life Cycle:

They are internal or external parasitoids on a wide range of insects, commonly butterflies/moths, flies, beetles, and other bees/wasps. Females use many different methods of host immobilization and egg laying. Larvae develop in/on their host, feeding on its tissues, and eventually break free to spin a cocoon. The free-living adults feed on pollen and nectar from plants, or honeydew. Many hibernate in this stage.

Rarity Status:

The status of Canadian species has not yet been assessed, and none are legally protected.

Physical Appearance:

These wasps range from 3 to 40 mm in size. Many (often females) are uniformly yellowish to black, while others (often males) have bright patterns in yellow or black and brown. Antennae are usually at least half the body length with a minimum of 16 segments. Female ovipositors are often longer than the body. They can be distinguished from Braconid Wasps by their wing venation patterns.

Pollinator Habitat:

They are common in most terrestrial habitats, and usually found in areas occupied by their hosts. Females are often seen searching for hosts, while males may be seen gathering in areas where females emerge.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland/Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Prairie Types:

  • Fescue Prairie
  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie
Ichneumonid Wasps