Sphecidae is a large worldwide family with more than 7,552 known species as of 2000. Diagnostic characters include a pronotum with laterally rounded lobes which do not reach the tegulae; abdomen often with distinct petiole; legs long and slender. The antennae usually have 12 segments in females and 13 segments in males. The head is oblique with sturdily developed mandibles. Both males and females possess wings.
All known species are solitary, although the nests may hve several females provisioning their nests in wood, in burrows in the ground, or constructed of mud, with a wide variety of insect larvae and adults or spiders. The subfamily Larrinae contains primary ectoparasitoids of nymphs of Hemiptera and Orthoptera. Adult sphecids use nectar as a food source.
Finnamore & Michener (1993) discussed 3 subfamilies in this family: Ammophilinae, Sceliphrinae and Specinae
Several formerly separate families are now included in the Sphecidae. These are Ampulicidae, Astatinae, Bembicidae, Cerceridae, Crabronidae, Larridae, Mellinidae, Nyssonidae, Pemphredonidae, Philanthidae, Psenidae, Sphecidae, Stizidae and Trypoxylonidae. However, since much of the early literature discusses the various now grouped families separate, information is presently being retained under the former family categories in the files <ampulici.htm>, <astatin.htm>, <bembicid.htm>, <cercerid.htm>, <crabroni.htm>, <larrinae.htm>, <mellinid.htm>, <nyssonid.htm>, <pemphred.htm>, <philanth.htm>, <pseninae.htm>, <sphecid.htm>, <stizinae.htm>, <trypoxyl.htm>.
Bohart, R. M. & A. S. Meake. 1976. Sphecid Wasps of the World. Univ. Calif. Press.
Evans, H. E. 1963. Wasp Farm.
Evans, H. E. 1966. The Comparative Ethology and Evolution of the Sandwasps. Harvard Univ. Press.
Parker. 1929. Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus. 75: 11-181.
Sanhouse, G. 1940. Amer. Midl. Nat. 24: 133-76.