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Classification of Afrotropical Hymenoptera (Wasps, Bees, Ants)

(Life: Kingdom: Metazoa (animals); Phylum: Arthropoda; Class: Hexapoda; Order: Hymenoptera)

Identification keys


  • Order HYMENOPTERA (Wasps, Bees, Ants)





Aguiar AP, Deans AR, Engel MS, Forshage M, Huber JT, Jennings JT, Johnson NF, Lelej AS, Longino JT, Lohrmann V, Miko I. 2013. Order Hymenoptera. In: Zhang, Z.-Q.(Ed.) Animal Biodiversity: An Outline of Higher-level Classification and Survey of Taxonomic Richness (Addenda 2013). Zootaxa 3703: 51-62. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3703.1.12

Branstetter MG, Childers AK, Cox-Foster D, Hopper KR, Kapheim KM, Toth AL, Worley KC. 2018. Genomes of the Hymenoptera. Current Opinion in Insect Science 25: 65-75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2017.11.008

Brothers D.J. 2019. Aculeate Hymenoptera: Phylogeny and Classification. In: Starr C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Social Insects. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_1-1

Debevec AH, Cardinal S, Danforth BN. 2012. Identifying the sister group to the bees: a molecular phylogeny of Aculeata with an emphasis on the superfamily Apoidea. Zoologica scripta 41: 527-35. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1463-6409.2012.00549.x

Johnson BR, Borowiec ML, Chiu JC, Lee EK, Atallah J, Ward PS. 2013. Phylogenomics resolves evolutionary relationships among ants, bees, and wasps. Current Biology 23: 20582062. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.08.050

Peters RS, Krogmann L, Mayer C, Donath A, Gunkel S, Meusemann K, Kozlov A, Podsiadlowski L, Petersen M, Lanfear R, Diez PA. 2017. Evolutionary history of the Hymenoptera. Current Biology 27:1013-1018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.01.027

Pilgrim EM, von Dohlen CD, Pitts JP. 2008. Molecular phylogenetics of Vespoidea indicate paraphyly of the superfamily and novel relationships of its component families and subfamilies. Zoologica Scripta 37: 539560. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1463-6409.2008.00340.x


The re-classification of the Vespoidea into a number of superfamilies proposed by Pilgrim et al. (2008) and adopted by Peters et al. (2017) and Branstetter et al. (2018) has not been followed here yet, for reasons outlined in Brothers (2019). The exception is recognition of the family Thynnidae incorporating various taxa previously included in the Tiphiidae, a hypothesis that appears to have fairly robust support (albeit only based on molecular evidence), and recognition of which has been widely adopted across various platforms. We retain this newly proposed family together with the historically recognized families within the single superfamily Vespoidea, until such time that stronger phylogenetic evidence, based on both molecular as well as morphological appraisal, becomes available for supporting additional splitting at superfamily level within this group.


Photographs Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa)

Web author Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum)


Citation: van Noort, S. 2021. WaspWeb: Hymenoptera of the Afrotropical region. URL: www.waspweb.org (accessed on <day/month/year>).

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