Phylogenetics of Ceraphronoidea

Ceraphronoidea currently comprises two extant families (Ceraphronidae and Megaspilidae) and one or two fossil lineages (Stigmaphronidae and maybe Maimetshidae). Unlike the Proctotrupoidea, within which the ceraphronoids used to be be classified, Ceraphronoidea is easier to diagnose. All species have the following characteristics:

  • 2 protibial spurs present
  • forewing C+SC fused, Rs vein upcurved
  • metasomal segment II large
  • antennae geniculate
  • metasomal spiracles absent

These wasps vary widely in their insect host choices, but they usually prefer hosts that are weakly concealed. Ceraphronoids have been reared from:

  • scale insects (Megaspilidae, Ceraphronidae)
  • fly puparia (Megaspilidae, Ceraphronidae)
  • neuropteran cocoons (Megaspilidae, Ceraphronidae)
  • as hyperparasitoids of aphidiinae braconids on aphids (Megaspilidae, Ceraphronidae)
  • thrips (Ceraphronidae)
  • butterflies and moths (Ceraphronidae)
Aims and Methods

The higher level classification (subfamily- and genus-level) within Ceraphronoidea has never been tested phylogenetically, but a catalog was produced recently (Johnson & Musetti, 2004) that clarifies many taxonomic issues. We aim to estimate relationships within this superfamily in order to improve its taxonomy, as well as to understand host use and host shifts.

We are trying to acquire specimens (exemplar taxa listed below) for rigorous morphological- and DNA-based analyses.

Exemplar Taxa

To help determine the position of Ceraphronoidea within Hymenoptera (currently a mystery) we are acquiring the following taxa for inclusion in a larger scale phylogenetic analysis:


  • Aphanogmus (many exemplars)
  • Ceraphron (many exemplars)
  • Ecitonetes
  • Synarsis
  • Gnathoceraphron



  • Lagynodes
  • Aetholagynodes


  • Dendrocerus (many exemplars)
  • Megaspilus fuscipennis Ashmead
  • Conostigmus (many exemplars)
  • Platyceraphron
  • Trassedia
  • Tricosteresis

This large scale analysis will aid in determining appropriate outgroups for our subsequent Ceraphronoidea phylogeny, for which we seek specimens representing all the genera (hopefully with each genus represented by multiple exemplars) listed in the figure above.


Dessart, P. 1975. A propos du genre Neoceraphron Ashmead, 1893 (Hym. Ceraphronoidea Ceraphronidae). Bulletin et Annales de la Société Royale Belge d'Entomologie 111: 248-261.

Dessart, P. & Cancemi, P. 1987. Tableau dichotomique des genres de Ceraphronoidea (Hymenoptera) avec commentaires et nouvelles especies. Frustula Entomologica 7-8: 307-372.

Johnson, N. F. & L. Musetti. 2004. Catalog of the systematic literature of the superfamily Ceraphronoidea (Hymenoptera). Contributions of the American Entomological Institute 33 (2): 1-149.

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of Assembling the Tree of Life Project EF-0337220, Building the Hymenopteran Tree of Life (a.k.a. HymAToL).Website questions/problems/corrections: