Ants, Wasps, Bees, Sawflies
Hymenoptera is a tremendously diverse order of insects, as well as one of the best known orders. It includes all ants, bees, wasps, and sawflies. Hymenoptera may have four membranous wings, or in the case of worker ants, be wingless. The female members of this order (apart from sawflies), have a “stinger.” The stinger is actually a modified ovipositor (egg-laying organ) It is used both for defense and often to inject venom, to paralyze or kill prey.
Another characteristic of this order is that its members are all haplodiploid. This gives a mother the ability to choose the sex of her offspring, because males only have one set of chromosomes (developing from unfertilized eggs), while females have two. Adults of this order mostly feed on nectar or honeydew, while their larvae may feed on plant tissue, nectar, or other insects. Hymenoptera is one of the only orders whose members may be social, living together in communities of closely related family members. Ants and honeybees are most commonly known for their sociality. It is thought that this social behavior most likely evolved as a result of haplodiploidy.
The Coal Oil Point collection contains over 170 morphospecies of Hymenoptera, most of which are small parasitic wasps. The wasps account for a large portion of the collection’s overall diversity.
pemphrenid2 or oph1
Superfamily Apoidea includes all bees. Contrary to common perceptions, most bees are solitary. The social honey bees and bumble bees are in fact the major exceptions. Solitary bees live in small nests in the ground or other natural cavities. Bees feed on flower pollen or nectar and as a result play an invaluable role in pollinating plants, including flowering crops such as cotton, fruits, and vegetables. The Coal Oil Point Reserve collection includes ten species of native bees, in addition to the nonnativeEuropean honeybee.
The family Formicidae includes all ants. Ants live communally in nests ranging in size from a dozen to several thousands of individuals. Nests are found in the ground or in other natural cavities and typically consist of one queen, many workers, and depending on the season a small number of males. Depending on the species, ants may be predaceous, phytophagous, or scavengers.
Coal Oil Point is home to five species of ants, including the highly invasive Argentine Ant (Linepithema humile.)
Braconids, Ichneumons, Stephanids
This is the largest superfamily within Hymenoptera, named for the largest family, Ichneumonidae. Members range vastly in size from minute to over 2 inches, and are essentially ubiquitous. The larger of these wasps have very impressive ovipositors, though they rarely will sting humans. The ovipositor is often used instead for paralyzing prey which they feed to their larvae alive. These parasitoid larvae are very important in controlling the abundances of pest insects. The Coal Oil Point collection has over 50 species of Ichneumons and Braconids.
Fairyflies, Chalcids, Pteromalids
This group includes small to minute wasps with characteristically reduced wing veination. These tiny wasps are generally parasitic on other insects and as a result are very important in controlling the abundance of pest insects. Some of these are even hyperparasites, meaning that they parasitize other parasites. The Coal Oil Point collection contains over 40 species of Chalcidoidea, including 10 species of Fairyflies (Mymaridae).
pteromalid3 or mymarid5
Proctotrupids, Diaprids, Scelionids
This superfamily includes several types of small but very common parasitoid wasps. As larvae, these wasps are parasitic on other insects. Each species of wasp is generally a specialist in parasitizing a particular group of insect. The Coal Oil Point collection includes 28 morphospecies of Proctotrupoidea, 19 of which are Scelionids.
Scelionidae is a family belonging to the superfamily Proctotrupoidea. Scelionids are a common group, and distinct from other Proctotrupoids in that they chiefly parasitize the eggs of other insects. The Coal Oil Point collection contains 19 morphospecies of Scelionids.
Diptera is both a very abundant and diverse order. As their name suggests, Flies are excellent fliers. Unlike most insects, they only have one set of membranous wings. Their hind wings have evolved over time into structures known as “halteres,” small knob-like apparatuses responsible for balance.
Fly larvae are found in a very wide variety of habitats, ranging from soil and plant tissue to dead and living animal tissue. Adults feed mainly on liquids, often from sweet or decaying sources. The most infamous fly is undoubtedly the mosquito, the females of which must take a blood meal each time before she lays her eggs. Because of this trait, biting flies such as mosquitoes, black flies, and horse flies serve as vectors of human and animal disease.
Flies are responsible for a great deal of the diversity at Coal Oil Point, with over 120 species in the collection.
This family of flies is very common and found in marshy and meadow habitats. They are named for their noticeably long and thin legs. Though small, these flies may be quite attractive, exhibiting metallic blue and green coloration. The adults are generally predaceous on smaller insects, while the larvae may be found in moist soil, decaying vegetation, or water depending on species. The Coal Oil Point collection contains six morphospecies of Long-legged flies.
Hoverflies, or Flower-flies are a fairly common family of flies. They are exceptional fliers and are generally found hovering around flowers. Many species look strikingly similar to wasps or bees, though Hoverflies do not have a “stinger.” The adults feed on flower nectar and aphid honeydew. Their larvae are more diverse in habitat, some of which scavenge in dung and decaying matter or graze on aphids on plants, while others are aquatic. The Coal Oil Point collection contains ten morphospecies of Hoverflies.
This is a large and common family of rather small-sized flies. Both as adults and as larvae Frit flies live either in decaying matter or in grass stems and as such are found in grassy areas. The Coal Oil Point collection has three morphospecies of Frit Flies.
Leaf miner Flies
Leaf miner flies are small flies generally found among vegetation. They are called “leaf miners” because their tiny larvae live within leaves. They eat the leaf from the inside, mining through it and leaving behind winding brown trails. The Coal Oil Point collection contains eight morphospecies of leaf miner flies.
This family includes many common flies, including House flies. Muscids are relatively large and hairy. Some are predaceous as adults, while most feed on dead plant and animal tissue, dung, and even blood. Muscids that feed on blood such as the Tsetse fly are important disease vectors. Though Tsetse fly is not in California, the stable fly is a biting muscid that may be found in our area. The Coal Oil Point collection contains nine morphospecies of Muscid flies.
Tachinidae is a very common and abundant family of flies. They tend to be large and hairy, occasionally resembling bees. The larvae parasitize other insects and as a result are very important in controlling the abundance of pest species.
The Coal Oil Point collection contains eleven morphospecies of Tachnid flies.
This is a large and common family of flies. The larvae of most species form galls
Booklice, Barklice, Pscoids
Psocids are a common but relatively inconspicuous order of insects. These tiny insects typically live among tree bark and other dry plant matter. While they may have be winged or wingless, all of the species found in Coal Oil Point thus far are winged. They feed on fungi, lichen, and decaying plant debris, and along with many other insects play an important role in cycling nutrients. They can be gregarious or live alone. Some species spin silk in which they live. A few are known to live communally in bird feathers and nests or mammal fur, and some research has suggested they are the ancestors of true lice. Coal Oil Point is home to 8 species of psocids, all of which are winged.
Lacewings, Dusty-wings, Owlflies, Antlions
Neuroptera is a common but not terribly diverse order of insects. They are distinguishable by their densely veined membranous wings, giving the appearance of “lace.” Most species are voracious predators, typically preying on plant pest insects such as aphids. Because of this some neuropterans have been successfully used in the biological control of crop pests. We have found three species of lacewings(one green and two brown) and one species of dusty-wings at Coal Oil Point.
Dusty-wings are notably rare, however we have found one specimen at the reserve. They have fewer veins in their wings than their lacewing relatives and are covered with a characteristic waxy dust. They prey on soft bodied homopterans such as aphids and scale insects both as larvae and adults.
What’s the purpose of the dust?
Brown lacewings are voracious predators because of this have been used for successfully for biological control of agricultural pests (what specifically?). They typically live in wooded areas and prey on plant pests such as aphids and scale insects. Coal Oil Point is home to two species of brown lacewings.
Green lacewings tend to be more common than their brown relatives. They are voracious predators because of this have been used for successfully for biological control of agricultural pests (what specifically?). They typically live in open grassland areas and prey on plant pests such as aphids and scale insects. Coal Oil Point is home to one species of green lacewings.