Description & Statistics
There are only a few genera and species in Sapygidae. They are parasitoids or inquilines in the nests of Apoidea and Sphecoidea (Clausen 1940/62). It is a family of solitary aculeate wasps. There is no common English name, but Club-horned wasps may be suitable. There are ca. 85 described species, none of which are of much economic importance. Some of their hosts are important pollinators and thus it may be required to control them. (Peterson et al., 1992)
This family was considered with the Vespoidea by (Brothers & Finnamore 1993). They are generally black wasps, similar in appearance to some Tiphiidae, with white or yellow markings developed to various degrees.
The female oviposits her eggs into the nests of solitary bees, and the developing larvae consume both the host larvae and the supply of food provided for them.
Sapygidae are widespread but apparently do not occur in Australasia. There were 82 species known by 2000, and two subfamilies: Fedtschenkiinae and Sapyginae. Adults are usually black, and often marked with yellow or white. All of the known species are solitary. The larvae are cleptoparasitoids or ectoparasitoids of the larvae of Megachilidae, Anthophoridae, and Eumeninae. Pupation occurs within the cell prepared by the host.
Brothers & Finnamore (1993) discussed the two subfamilies as follows:
”Fedschenkiinae are Holarctic, but restricted to arid areas. There are very few species in one genus. Adults are usually black. The larvae are ectoparasitoids on the larvae of soil-nesting Eumeninae. One species occurs in North America (none found in Canada as yet).”
“Sapyginae are widespread, but also absent from the Australian region. There are several species in a few genera. Adults are usually black with yellow or white markings. The larvae are cleptoparasitoids or ectoparasitoids of the larvae of Megachilidae, Anthophoridae and Eumeninae. In North America there are 16 species in 2 genera (6 species, 2 genera in Canada).”
“Polochrum repandum Spin. of Europe develops in the cells of Xylocopa violacea L. The young larva is found on the food mass in the cell with the Xylocopa egg, the latter being destroyed before much feeding has taken place on the stored food (Parker 1926).”
“Tobias (1965) keyed the subfamilies, and he and Bradley (1955) discussed Fedtschenkiinae. Pate (1947b) provided keys to the New World genera. ARnold (1929) revised the African species, and Kurzenko (1986) revised those of the USSR. Krombein (1979c) summarized information on the biology.”
Fossil sapygids have been found in Upper Eocene Baltic amber (Brischke, 1886).
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Brischke, D. 1886. Die Hymenopteren des Bernsteins. Schr. Naturforsch. Ges. Danzig, 6: 278-279.
Peterson, S.S., C.R. Baird, R. M. Bitner Parma & C. Idaho. 1992. Current Status of the Alfalfa Leafcutting Bee, Megachile rotundata, as a Pollinator of Alfalfa Seed. Bee Science 2:135-142.