The larvae of these homometabolous insects (with complete metamorphosis) go through a nymphal or pupal stage before becoming adults. The adults are very different from the larvae. The pupa forms in a cocoon spun by the larva. In parasitoid species, the cocoon may be located outside or inside the host.

Parasitoid species have legless larvae that resemble maggots or white worms. By contrast, phytophagous larvae, such as sawflies, resemble moth caterpillars, but they have more than five pairs of prolegs without hooks.

In most species, the sex is determined by fertilization: a fertilized egg will produce a female and a nonfertilized egg will produce a male.

Most of the species have one or two generations per year. Ants can produce up to five generations annually.

Their diet is highly varied. Some Hymenoptera are phytophagous (plant feeding), but a larger number are zoophagous (predators and parasitoids) and saprophagous (detritivorous). Depending on their diet, these insects may be found in a wide variety of habitats, mostly terrestrial, such as on foliage and flowers, under tree bark, on other insects and in plant litter and fruits.


Here are typical representatives of some families in this order. At least one species associated with these families is described in the site´s fact sheets.

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