Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

1 December 2011 - Danielle N. Stringer, John T. Jennings & Andrew D. Austin, Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, and the School of Earth and Environmental Science, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

N.B. Stevens, M. Iqbal, A.D. Austin & J.T. Jennings, Centre for Evolutionary Biology & Biodiversity (CEBB), Waite Institute, Adelaide, South Australia


The Braconidae is one of the largest families of parasitic Hymenoptera and to date, nearly 696 species have been described from Australia, but this may represent less than 20% of the true size of the fauna. Biologically, the vast majority of braconids are endo- or ectoparasitoids of insect larvae, particularly of the Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Diptera, and more rarely of a number of other insect orders (see Shaw & Huddleston 1991, Wharton 1993, and Wharton et al. 1997 for reviews).

Some groups oviposit into host eggs and development is delayed until the host larval stage (e.g. Cheloninae), while pupal and adult parasitism is very rare. Braconids are extensively used as biological control agents worldwide, particularly of Lepidoptera, and numerous species have been imported into most countries including Australia. Compared with the Ichneumonidae, hyperparasitoids are virtually absent in the Braconidae.

Until recently, the family was also thought to be solely parasitic, but a few instances of phytophagy have been recorded in recent years (see Infante et al. 1995; Austin & Dangerfield 1998; Marsh et al. 2000).

Braconids can best be identified by their wing venation (Wharton et al. 1997), and wingless and brachypterous species by the presence of exodont mandibles (see Alysiinae) or a cyclostome (circular) depression above the mandibles comprising the labrum and part of the clypeus (see Doryctinae).

Thirty-six subfamilies are known to occur in Australia. Two unusual subfamilies, Mesostoinae and Trachypetinae, are endemic to Australia. The relationships among the subfamilies have been examined in detail using morphological and molecular data (e.g. Quicke & van Achterberg 1990; Wharton et al. 1992; Dowton et al. 1998; Belshaw et al. 2000). General accounts of the classification and identification of the family are provided by van Achterberg (1993), Marsh et al. (1987), Wharton (1993) and Wharton et al. (1997).


General References

Austin, A.D. & Dangerfield, P.C. 1998. Biology of the Mesostoa kerri Austin and Wharton (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Mesostoinae), an endemic Australian wasp that causes stem galls on Banksia marginata Cav. Australian Journal of Botany 46: 559-569

Belshaw, R., Dowton, M., Quicke, D.L.J. & Austin, A.D. 2000. Estimating ancestral geographical distributions: a Gondwanan origin for aphid parasitoids? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 267: 491-496

Dowton, M., Austin, A.D. & Antolin, M.F. 1998. Evolutionary relationships among the Braconidae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonoidea) inferred from partial 16S rDNA gene sequences. Insect Molecular Biology 7: 129-150

Infante, F., Hanson, P. & Wharton, R. 1995. Phytophagy in the genus Monitoriella (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) with description of new species. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 88: 406-415

Marsh, P.M., De Macedo, M.V. & Pimental, M.C.P. 2000. Description and biological notes on two new phytophagous species of the genus Allorhogas from Brasil (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Doryctinae). Journal of Hymenoptera Research 9: 292-297

Marsh, P.M., Shaw, S.R. & Wharton, R.A. 1987. An identification manual for the North American genera of the family Braconidae (Hymenoptera). Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Washington 13: 1-98

Quicke, D.L.J. & van Achterberg, C. 1990. Phylogeny of the subfamilies of the family Braconidae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonoidea). Zoologische Verhandelingen (Leiden) 258: 1-95

Shaw, M.R. & Huddleston, T. 1991. Classification and biology of braconid wasps (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 7: 1-126

van Achterberg, C. 1993. Illustrated key to the subfamilies of the Braconidae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonoidea). Zoologische Verhandelingen (Leiden) 283: 1-189

Wharton, R.A. 1993. Bionomics of the Braconidae. Annual Review of Entomology 38: 121-143

Wharton, R.A., Marsh, P.M. & Sharkey, M.J. (eds) 1997. Manual of the New World Genera of the Family Braconidae (Hymenoptera). Washington, D. C. : The International Society of Hymenopterists 439 pp.

Wharton, R.A., Shae, S.R., Sharkey, M.J., Wahl, D.B., Woolley, J.B., Whitfield, J.B., Marsh, P.M. & Johnson, J.W. 1992. Phylogeny of the subfamilies of the family Braconidae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae): a reassessment. Cladistics 8: 199-235


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
03-Dec-2014 BRACONIDAE 18-Mar-2015 MODIFIED Lyn Randall
23-Mar-2015 25-Jul-2012 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)