AskDefine | Define hymenopteran

Dictionary Definition

hymenopteran n : insects having two pairs of membranous wings and an ovipositor specialized for stinging or piercing [syn: hymenopterous insect, hymenopteron, hymenopter] [also: hymenoptera (pl)]

Extensive Definition

Hymenoptera is one of the larger orders of insects, comprising the sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants. The name refers to the membranous wings of the insects, and is derived from the Ancient Greek ὑμήν (humẽn): membrane and πτερόν (pteron): wing. The hindwings are connected to the forewings by a series of hooks called hamuli.
Females typically have a special ovipositor for inserting eggs into hosts or otherwise inaccessible places. The ovipositor is often modified into a stinger. The young develop through complete metamorphosis — that is, they have a worm-like larval stage and an inactive pupal stage before they mature. (See holometabolism.)


Hymenoptera originated in the Triassic, the oldest fossils belonging to the family Xyelidae. Social hymenopterans appeared during the Cretaceous. The evolution of this group has been intensively studied by A. Rasnitsyn, M. S. Engel, G. Dlussky, and others.

Sex determination

Among the hymenopterans, sex is determined by the number of chromosomes an individual possesses. Fertilized eggs get two sets of chromosomes (one from each parent's respective gametes), and so develop into diploid females, while unfertilized eggs only contain one set (from the mother), and so develop into haploid males; the act of fertilization is under the voluntary control of the egg-laying female. This phenomenon is called haplodiploidy. Note, however, that the actual genetic mechanisms of haplodiploid sex determination may be more complex than simple chromosome number. In many Hymenoptera, sex is actually determined by a single gene locus with many alleles. In these species, haploids are male and diploids heterozygous at the sex locus are female, but occasionally a diploid will be homozygous at the sex locus and develop as a male instead. This is especially likely to occur in an individual whose parents were siblings or other close relatives. Diploid males are known to be produced by inbreeding in many ant, bee and wasp species.
One consequence of haplodiploidy is that females on average actually have more genes in common with their sisters than they do with their own daughters. Because of this, cooperation among kindred females may be unusually advantageous, and has been hypothesized to contribute to the multiple origins of eusociality within this order.



The suborder Symphyta includes the sawflies, horntails, and parasitic wood wasps. The group may be paraphyletic, as it has been suggested that the family Orussidae may be the group from which the Apocrita arose. They have an unconstricted junction between the thorax and abdomen, and the larvae of free-living forms are herbivorous, have legs, prolegs (on every segment, unlike Lepidoptera) (butterflies and moths), and ocelli.


The wasps, bees, and ants together make up the suborder Apocrita, characterized by a constriction between the first and second abdominal segments called a wasp-waist (petiole), also involving the fusion of the first abdominal segment to the thorax. Also, the larvae of all Apocrita do not have legs, prolegs, or ocelli.
hymenopteran in Catalan: Himenòpter
hymenopteran in Czech: Blanokřídlí
hymenopteran in German: Hautflügler
hymenopteran in Estonian: Kiletiivalised
hymenopteran in Modern Greek (1453-): Υμενόπτερα
hymenopteran in Spanish: Hymenoptera
hymenopteran in Esperanto: Himenopteroj
hymenopteran in French: Hymenoptera
hymenopteran in Korean: 벌목 (곤충)
hymenopteran in Ido: Himenoptero
hymenopteran in Indonesian: Hymenoptera
hymenopteran in Italian: Hymenoptera
hymenopteran in Hebrew: דבוראים
hymenopteran in Lithuanian: Plėviasparniai
hymenopteran in Hungarian: Hártyásszárnyúak
hymenopteran in Dutch: Hymenoptera
hymenopteran in Japanese: ハチ目
hymenopteran in Norwegian: Årevinger
hymenopteran in Norwegian Nynorsk: Årevengjer
hymenopteran in Polish: Błonkoskrzydłe
hymenopteran in Portuguese: Hymenoptera
hymenopteran in Romanian: Hymenoptera
hymenopteran in Quechua: Qaralla rapra
hymenopteran in Russian: Перепончатокрылые
hymenopteran in Slovenian: Kožokrilci
hymenopteran in Serbian: Opnokrilci
hymenopteran in Sundanese: Hymenoptera
hymenopteran in Finnish: Pistiäiset
hymenopteran in Swedish: Steklar
hymenopteran in Vietnamese: Bộ Cánh màng
hymenopteran in Turkish: Hymenoptera
hymenopteran in Chinese: 膜翅目
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