Australian Biological Resources Study

Australian Faunal Directory


Regional Maps


Compiler and date details

28 May 2012 - Danielle N. Stringer, John T. Jennings & Andrew D. Austin, Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide SA 5005


This is a relatively new family that was created from division of the Sphecidae sensu lato of previous authors into two families, Sphecidae sensu stricto and Crabronidae, on phylogenetic grounds. It comprises all of the subfamilies previously contained within Sphecidae s.l. except for Sphecinae (now Sphecidae s.str.) and Ampulicicinae (now a separate family Ampulicidae). The family comprises the majority of species previously in Sphecidae s.l. with 689 species described for Australia. Crabronids can be recognised by the lack of a petiole between the mesosoma and metasoma or, if a petiole is present, then it is short or composed of tergal and sternal components and the basal jugal lobe of the hind wing is small. Of the nine subfamilies, four are represented in Australia; Bembecinae, Crabroninae, Pemphredoninae and Philanthinae, and these can be identified using existing keys. Some crabronids can be mistaken for bees, but they lack the plumose hairs.

Adults feed on nectar or honeydew, or at extrafloral nectaries, while females prey on and provision their nests with a range of insect groups as well as spiders (Araneae). Nesting behaviour is variable: they often nest in pre-existing cavities or in twigs; many are ground nesters; and some construct tubular mud nests. Communal nesting has been recorded in some subfamilies. The female stings and paralyses her prey which she places in cells inside the nest where an egg is then laid in each cell; the developing larva feeds on the paralysed prey. Different subfamilies display specific prey preferences. The biology and systematics of the Australian genus Bembix (sand wasps), with more than 80 species, has been examined in detail.

Jennings & Austin (2015) list 7 unidentified species from Lord Howe Island in the Australian Museum.


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)
13-Dec-2011 ADDED